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

Beitza 23a-b: Eating Roasted Meat at the Seder
23/09/2021 - 17th of Tishrei, 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 (22b) teaches that Rabban Gamliel rules leniently on three issues concerning Yom Tov. He permitted the floors to be swept (he was not concerned that sweeping the floor would fill in holes), he allowed incense to be burned and he encouraged people to eat a roasted goat on the night of the Passover seder. The Gemara on our daf  discusses the case of the Passover seder, which was a point of disagreement because the other Sages felt that it looked too much like the actual Pesaḥ sacrifice. The question at hand was: following the destruction of the Temple, what is the best course of action? Should we eat meat at the seder roasted in commemoration of the Passover sacrifice that had to be roasted (see Sh'mot 12:8-9) or would doing so present a problem because it would appear that the sacrifice was being eaten outside the precincts of Jerusalem?
It is taught in a baraita in this regard that Rabbi Yosei says: Theodosius [Todos] of Rome, leader of the Jewish community there, instituted the custom for the Roman Jews to eat whole kids on the night of Passover, in commemoration of the practice followed in the Temple. The Sages sent a message to him: Were you not Theodosius, an important person, we would have decreed ostracism upon you , as you are feeding the Jewish people consecrated food, which may be eaten only in and around the Temple itself, outside the Temple.
The Gemara in Pesahim (53a) asks whether the reluctance to place Todos under ban stemmed from the fact that he was a talmid hakham, or, perhaps, because he was a powerful figure who could not be punished. The Hatam Sofer points out that this is not merely a theoretical question, but a practical one from which we can deduce that a talmid hakham should not be punished for making an error, but should simply be warned about it. In response, the Gemara in Pesahim offers two stories about him. The first story quotes Todos as teaching an aggadic homily, in which he explained the actions of Hananiah, Misha'el and Azariah who allowed themselves to be thrown into a fiery furnace (see Daniel chapter 3 ) by comparing their situation to that of the frogs of the second of the ten plagues in Egypt who willingly jumped into burning ovens (see Sh'mot 7:28). According to this story, since we have records of Todos teaching Torah publicly, apparently he was a scholar. Rabbi Yosei bar Avin relates the second story, that Todos was someone who supported Torah scholars by lending money or merchandise to them, thus allowing them to support themselves. It should be noted that the Rambam lists eight levels of charity (see Rambam Hilkhot Matnot Aniyim 10:7) ranging from giving a hand-out to a poor person to offering assistance in a secretive way. The highest level enumerated is someone who enters into a partnership with a poor person, allowing him to become self-sufficient, which, apparently, was Todos' relationship with the Torah scholars in his community.
Beitza 22a-b: Medical Treatment of the Eyes on Yom Tov
22/09/2021 - 16th of Tishrei, 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 discusses whether eye diseases can be treated on Yom Tov. As the Gemara points out, in situations of potentially life-threatening danger it is obvious that any treatment can be done; the issue at hand is whether treatments to improve vision or minor ailments can be used. Medical treatment of the eyes has a long history, since such conditions were common in the Middle East due to an abundance of sand and insects that carried diseases. Archaeologists have found instruments used in surgical operations on the eye from the Talmudic period. The discussion in our Gemara, however, deals with the application of salves or creams that were inserted into the eye by means of a mik'hol – a tiny spoon that was also used for applying cosmetics. The Gemara leaves this question as a disagreement between Rabbi Yehuda and the Rabbanan (rabbis). Ameimar, however, permitted the application of salves on the eye on Yom Tov if it was done by a non-Jew. In response to Rav Ashi's objection that a non-Jew could only be employed to perform such an activity if the Jew does not assist him – and in the case of inserting a cream into the eye, the patient must be playing an assisting role – Ameimar argues that mesayei'ah ein bo mamash – that merely assisting is not considered an act of significance. It is difficult to claim that mesayei'ah ein bo mamash since there are many instances in the Talmud that even the person assisting in a given case is considered to have played a significant role. Rabbi Akiva Eiger suggests that a distinction must be made between cases where the mesayei'ah participates in the activity (where such participation would be forbidden) and where he merely allows the activity to take place, like in our case where opening and closing the eye allows the medicine to be applied.
Beitza 21a-b: Cooking for Non-Jews on Yom Tov
21/09/2021 - 15th of Tishrei, 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 Huna was asked to rule on the following question: when the government requires villagers to bake for soldiers who are stationed in the area, are they permitted to do so on Yom Tov? Rav Huna ruled that it would be permitted to bake for the soldiers if the bakers were permitted to give bread to the Jewish children who were around, as well. In such a case, every loaf of bread could be seen as potentially being baked for the children. If the soldiers were careful that none of the bread be given away, and insisted that it all be delivered to the soldiers, then it would be forbidden to bake for them.
The Gemara challenges Rav Huna's lenient ruling: But isn't it taught in a baraita: There was an incident involving Shimon the Timnite, who did not come on the night of the Festival to the study hall. In the morning, Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava found him and said to him: Why did you not come last night to the study hall? He said to him: A military unit on a search mission [balleshet] came to our city and wanted to pillage the entire city. We slaughtered a calf in order to placate them, and we fed them with it and had them depart in peace.
Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava objected to this story, pointing out that the passage permitting cooking on Yom Tov (Sh'mot 12:16) only allows it lahem – for you – not for non-Jews. As the Gemara explains, in this case the animal that was prepared for the balleshet was not kosher, so it could not have been eaten by Jews and the entire preparation was for non-Jews only. The term balleshet apparently refers to an army unit that was sent to search for valuables (the root b-l-sh means to search). Usually these units were employed in enforcing payment of taxes, which made it essential for the local communities to stay on good terms with them, since their broad mandate often allowed them to stray well beyond their official tasks into violence and looting.
Beitza 20a-b: Sacrifices on Yom Tov II
20/09/2021 - 14th of Tishrei, 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 (19a) that Beit Shammai restricted the kinds of sacrifices that could be brought on Yom Tov to those that are obligatory on those days, while Beit Hillel permit all types of sacrifices to be brought. Hillel and Shammai lived at the end of the Second Temple period, so their disagreement is not one that involves only theoretical principles, but practical ones, as well.
The Sages taught in a baraita: There was an incident involving Hillel the Elder, who brought his burnt-offering to the Temple courtyard in order to place his hands on the animal's head on a Festival. The students of Shammai the Elder gathered around him and said to him: What is the nature of this animal that you are bringing? Hillel, being humble and meek, did not want to quarrel with them in the Temple and therefore concealed the truth from them for the sake of peace. He said to them: It is a female, and I have brought it as a peace-offering, as burnt-offerings are always male. He swung its tail for them so that they would not be able to properly discern whether the animal was male or female, and they departed.
A korban olah (burnt-offering) is totally burned on the altar, and none of it is eaten - neither by the kohanim nor by the person who brings it. A korban shelamim (peace-offering) is a sacrifice where part is offered on the altar, but there are also parts that are eaten by the kohanim and by the owner. According to Shammai, a korban olah cannot be brought on Yom Tov. A korban shelamim, however, can be brought, since parts of it will be eaten by the kohanim and by the owner, making it not only a sacrifice, but also food preparation, which is permitted on Yom Tov. Beit Hillel permit both olot and shelamim to be brought since they are connected to the holiday. Hillel's conciliatory stand taken in our baraita led to a situation where the students of Shammai were ready to claim victory and have the final ruling on this matter follow Shammai's teaching. At that moment, Bava ben Buta, one of Shammai's students who recognized that Hillel's position was the accepted one, stepped forward and arranged for a large number of choice cattle to be brought to the Temple. He called upon the onlookers to perform semikha on the animals and bring them as sacrifices, which was a public admission that Hillel's position was to be accepted. From that time on there was no longer any debate on this matter. The Talmud Yerushalmi relates the story in a slightly different manner, reporting that Hillel's modesty almost led to the acceptance of Shammai's position. At that moment the Temple emptied of korbanot, since no one was willing to come to sacrifice. This led Bava ben Buta to curse the people who brought on this situation, saying "the houses of these people should be made desolate, just as they made desolate the house of our Lord." He then ordered 3,000 cattle brought and announced that people should resume bringing sacrifices, so that the mikdash should not stand empty on Yom Tov.
Beitza 19a-b: Sacrifices on Yom Tov I
19/09/2021 - 13th of Tishrei, 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 our discussions of food preparation on Yom Tov, we have learned that even though several of the 39 activities forbidden on Shabbat are basic to food preparation, they are permitted on Yom Tov based on the passage in Sh'mot 12:16. How about sacrifices brought in the Temple? Obviously, korbanot that are part of the commandments of the day must be brought, but what about other sacrifices? During Temple times, a person who fulfilled the mitzva of aliya la-regel - pilgrimage to the Temple on the holidays of Pesah, Shavu'ot and Sukkot - would bring with him the korbanot that he was obligated to sacrifice. This included sacrifices unique to the particular holiday, as well as those that he had promised to bring over the course of the previous months. The hagiga (festival offering) was a korban shelamim that was brought by every individual at some point during the holiday (not necessarily on the day of Yom Tov itself). As with any korban shelamim, part of it was sacrificed on the altar, while much of it was eaten by the kohanim and the owner of the korban. Another sacrifice that was brought was the olat re'iyah, which a person was obligated to bring every time he came to the mikdash. This korban also could be brought throughout the holiday, but like any korban olah, it was burned on the mizbe'ah in its entirety, with no part of it eaten by anyone. In the Mishna on our daf, Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel disagree about whether various sacrifices can be brought on Yom Tov. According to Beit Shammai, a korban olah, which is totally burned up, cannot be brought. A korban shelmaim, however, can be brought, since parts of it will be eaten by the kohanim and by the owner, making it not only a sacrifice, but also food preparation, which is permitted on Yom Tov. Nevertheless, they forbid performing semikha on the animal. Beit Hillel permit both olot and shelamim to be brought since they are connected to the holiday, even through there is no obligation to bring them on the actual Yom Tov. They also permit semikha on both. The mitzva of semikha appears in connection with many korbanot (see, for example Vayikra 1:4). It involves having the owner of the sacrifice place both of his hands on the animal's head between the horns and lean against it with all of his strength. For sacrifices where confession (viduy) was said, semikha was the time to do it. Since semikha was done with force, it was considered by Beit Shammai to be making use of the animal - similar to riding an animal - which is forbidden by the Sages on Shabbat and Yom Tov. Rashi's explanation of Beit Shammai's opinion is that they do not reject the mitzva of semikha on Yom Tov; rather, they require the semikha to be done before Yom Tov begins and are not concerned with the time lapse between the semikha and the Sheḥiṭa.
Beitza 18a-b: Immersing on Shabbat to Prepare for Yom Tov
18/09/2021 - 12th of Tishrei, 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
During Temple times, those who were fulfilling the mitzva of aliya la-regel - pilgrimage to the Temple on the holidays of Pesah, Shavu'ot and Sukkot - needed to immerse themselves in a mikvah in order to ensure a high level of ritual purity. What happened when Yom Tov fell out on Sunday? Could the immersion be done on Shabbat in preparation for the holiday? The Mishna (17b) teaches that Beit Shammai insisted that, in such a case, immersions had to be done before Shabbat. Beit Hillel allowed people to go to the mikvah on Shabbat, but rule that any utensils that were needed had to be immersed before Shabbat. Many explanations are offered in the Gemara as to why Beit Hillel differentiated between a person and his utensils. According to Rava, immersing a utensil appears to be tikkun keli - fixing the utensil - which is forbidden on Shabbat, while a person appears to be simply cooling himself off. The Gemara argues that even on Yom Kippur, when bathing is ordinarily forbidden, such an immersion would be permitted since it is permitted on Shabbat, as well. The Re'ah explains that this logic is based on the fact that bathing on Yom Kippur is forbidden only when it is solely for pleasure, which is not the case when someone immerses in the mikvah for reasons of ritual purity.
We learn in a mishna: One who is concerned about pain in his teeth may not sip vinegar through them on Shabbat in order to alleviate his toothache; however, he may dip his food in vinegar in his usual manner during the meal and eat it, and if he is healed by the vinegar, he is healed.
In this parallel case brought by the Gemara, there is an activity that would be forbidden, but when done under circumstances where appearances indicate that it is being done for another reason, it is permitted. This Mishna in Shabbat (111a) teaches that someone with a toothache cannot sip vinegar on Shabbat because of the Rabbinic ruling that medicine cannot be taken on Shabbat except in cases of danger to life. If, however, he is eating bread, he can dip his bread into the vinegar and eat it, even though it will have the same effect, since this appears to simply be an act of dining. Vinegar was a popular remedy for toothaches in Talmudic times. When a person has a cavity - particularly when the nerve becomes exposed - vinegar is a painful drink, indeed (see Mishlei 10:26). However, when the gums are irritated, or when fluid builds up in the gums, vinegar can offer relief by lowering the osmotic pressure.
Beitza 17a-b: Preparing an Eiruv Tavashilin
17/09/2021 - 11th of Tishrei, 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 (15b) that when Yom Tov falls out on Friday, preparation for Shabbat can be done only if an eiruv tavshilin is prepared before Yom Tov begins. The Ra'avad explains that the idea of the eiruv tavshilin - literally "a combination of foods" - is to prepare a meal for Shabbat at a time when it is permissible, and then food that is made on Yom Tov can be combined with that food in preparation for Shabbat. Beit Shammai are quoted in the Mishna as requiring two types of food for the eiruv tavshilin, while Beit Hillel require just one. All are in agreement that fish with an egg on it is considered adequate. While this last comment seems obvious, the suggestion is that perhaps this is considered one dish, and it should not be enough for Beit Shammai. The Ri”d explains that this refers to fish eggs – kosher caviar – which at first glance may not appear to be a separate food. The Me'iri explains Beit Shammai's requirement of two foods as a symbolic meal prepared for Shabbat, for which a single item of food would not suffice. The Gemara on our daf quotes a baraita that has a different tradition with regard to the opinions of Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel. According to Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar, Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel agree that the eiruv tavshilin requires two foods; their argument is over whether a single dish, like fish prepared with egg, meets the requirement. Beit Shammai insists that two separate foods be prepared, while Beit Hillel rules that such a dish meets the requirement. Rava concludes the discussion by ruling that we follow Beit Hillel according to the version found in the Mishna. Thus, an eiruv tavshilin really only requires a single prepared food. Nevertheless, the tradition is to use a cooked food together with bread or matza, which would fulfill the requirement according to Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar's opinion, as well (see the Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayyim 627:2).
Beitza 16a-b: Preparing for Shabbat
16/09/2021 - 10th of Tishrei, 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 chapter of Massekhet Beitza, which begins on the last daf (15b), focuses on preparations for Shabbat and Yom Tov. The Mishna deals specifically with the case of Yom Tov falling out on Friday, when it is necessary to prepare for Shabbat on a day that has its own restrictions regarding food preparations and other melakhot. The Gemara on our daf brings a well-known disagreement between Hillel and Shammai. Shammai would prepare for Shabbat every day of the week in the following manner: Each time a delicacy came his way, he would purchase it and set it aside for Shabbat. If he found something better in the course of the week, he would replace the original delicacy with the new-found one, and eat the first one. In that way, his meals - not only on Shabbat, but throughout the week - were eaten with Shabbat in mind. Hillel, on the other hand, did all of his activities for the sake of heaven, quoting the passage in Tehillim (68:20), "Blessed be the Lord, day by day…" While Shammai's behavior is fairly easy to understand, Hillel's demands some explanation. Rashi explains that Hillel had full faith in God and was certain that He would make sure that all of the food and other Shabbat needs would be made available for him. Thus, he did not spend time and effort preparing for Shabbat on his own. The R"i Abohav explains that all of Hillel's activities throughout the week were with Shabbat in mind, so there was no need for him to announce that a specific purchase was for Shabbat. The Hatam Sofer argues that Hillel devoted his entire life to the service of God, so that everything that he did (and not only specific acts of mitzva) was with the intention to fulfill God's desire. As such, all of his activities - even his apparently mundane weekday activities - were infused with intentions of mitzva. The general agreement among rishonim and acharonim is that, in this case, it is Shammai who should be emulated, not Hillel. In many places, Shammai's tradition is quoted as normative and praised (see, for example, Rashi's commentary to the Torah, Sh'mot 20:8), while Hillel's is seen as appropriate only for people with a unique level of faith - and inappropriate for the average person.
Beitza 15a-b: When Tefillin are Inappropriate
15/09/2021 - 9th of Tishrei, 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 it is common practice today to wear tefillin just for the morning prayer service of shaharit, in the time of the Gemara it was commonplace for people to wear tefillin throughout the day. Nevertheless, there are times when wearing tefillin is inappropriate - for example on Shabbat and Yom Tov, or at night As a segue from the Mishna's mention of carrying tefillin on Yom Tov, our Gemara quotes two halakhot about tefillin:
  1. If a person is wearing tefillin while traveling and the sun sets, he should cover the tefillin with his hand until he arrives at home.
  2. If a person is wearing tefillin while studying in the beit midrash and Shabbat begins, he should cover the tefillin with his hand until he arrives at home.
Rashi explains that both cases are discussing scenarios in which Shabbat begins while the man is wearing tefillin. Tosafot and other rishonim point to the change in expression (the sun sets vs. Shabbat begins) and argue that there are two distinct cases being discussed. In the first case, the traveler finds that nightfall has arrived and he should not be wearing tefillin; in the second case the man studying finds that Shabbat has begun and that he should not be wearing tefillin. Rabbeinu Peretz defends Rashi's reading of the Gemara by explaining that the traveler is outside and immediately ascertains that it is dark, while the individual in the beit midrash may not realize that the day has ended until much later. The issue with regard to the beit midrash is, apparently, the fact that the study halls were often situated outside of the city limits. We therefore find many situations in the Gemara where people are afraid to leave the beit midrash at night without others accompanying them. It is possible that the batei midrash were built in this way in order to divide the cost of the building and upkeep between a number of communities, or to allow the residents of small, outlying villages to have ready access to the study hall.
Beitza 14a-b: Salt and Spices
14/09/2021 - 8th of Tishrei, 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 already established that, based on the passage in Sh'mot 12:16, food preparation is permitted on Yom Tov. The Mishna on our daf discusses the preparation of spices and salt. We find that Beit Shammai insist that some change be made in the way spices are ground up (grinding is one of the activities ordinarily forbidden on Shabbat), while Beit Hillel allow grinding to be done normally. Both agree, however, that salt should be ground in an out-of-the-ordinary way - by using a wooden pestle rather than the standard stone pestle.
What is the reason for this? Rav Huna and Rav Hisda disputed this issue. One of them said: Everyone knows that all dishes require salt, and therefore one should prepare salt the day before the Festival. Since he failed to do so, this task may be performed on the Festival only in an unusual manner. But not all dishes require spices, and therefore it is possible that on the day prior to the Festival, one was not aware that he would require spices on the Festival. And the other one said a different reason: All spices lose their flavor and cannot be prepared ahead of time, and salt does not lose its flavor, which means one could have prepared it the day before. Since he neglected to do so, he may prepare salt on the Festival only in an unusual manner.
The discussion that takes place in the rishonim revolves around the question of how we are to regard salt: Is salt considered a food, or is it merely an ingredient that is used in preparing food - makhshi'rei okhel nefesh? If it is the latter, then we can well understand that it cannot be prepared in the normal way, since makhshi'rei okhel nefesh are not included in the things that are permitted based on Sh'mot 12:16. If, however, salt is considered food, then why should we not permit it to be prepared as it always is? The Ran and Re'ah suggest that salt is different than other foods because it is not usually ground at home in small quantities. Ordinarily salt is prepared commercially and ground up in large amounts, and such preparation appears to be a weekday activity - a ma'aseh hol - which is why a change in the method of preparation is required.
Beitza 13a-b: Distributing Tithes
13/09/2021 - 7th of Tishrei, 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 a farmer harvests his crop, the Torah obligates him to offer a series of tithes to the kohanim and levi'im as well as to the poor. Among these tithes we find:
  • Teruma gedola– contribution to the kohen, which biblically can be any amount (the Sages recommended 1/40, 1/50 or 1/60 of the harvest)
  • Ma'aser rishon – one-tenth of the remaining crop, which is given to the levi
  • Terumat ma'aser – the levi gives to the kohen one-tenth of the ma'aser rishon that he received
Although teruma gedola does not need to be measured, since it can be any amount, how is one to measure the harvest in order to assure that the correct amount is distributed for ma'aser rishon and terumat ma'aser? The Talmud Yerushalmi offers three acceptable options:
  • Good: Moneh – the number of bushels harvested are counted
  • Better: Moded – the harvest is measured
  • Best: Shokel – the harvest is weighed
Our Gemara brings the opinion of Abba Elazar ben Gimmel who quotes the passage in Bamidbar 18:27 and interprets it as meaning that there are two types of teruma, both of which can be distributed based on estimation and intent. This opinion is accepted as the halakha by the Rambam (Hilkhot Terumot 3:4), who rules that it is a mitzva to distribute teruma gedola based on estimation rather than by weighing or measuring it. The Me'iri applies this ruling to terumat ma'aser, as well, arguing that it is the responsibility of the levi to be sure that he estimates generously so that the kohen will receive no less that 10 of the ma'aser rishon that the levi received. This teaching of Abba Elazar ben Gimmel is the only one that has been preserved, although due to its importance it appears several times in the Talmud. In the Sifrei the name appears as Abba Elazar ben Gamliel and the contraction to "Gimmel", "Gomel" and "Gamla" (as it appears in other sources) appears to be a nickname of sorts. He appears to have been a contemporary of Rabbi Akiva; during that period the title "Abba" was the honorific title given to a number of Sages.
Beitza 12a-b: Carrying on Yom Tov
12/09/2021 - 6th of Tishrei, 5782
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As we have learned on the previous pages of Massekhet Beitza, the passage that forbids work on Yom Tov specifically permits those activities that are essential for food preparation for the holiday (see Sh'mot 12:16). Aside from activities that are directly related to food preparation, like cooking and baking, it is generally accepted that carrying from one place to another is also essential – to bring ingredients or prepared food to the house of a neighbor. In the Mishna on our daf we learn that Beit Shammai forbids carrying a child, a lulav or a Sefer Torah into the public domain, while Beit Hillel permits them to be moved from one place to another. The Gemara explains that Beit Hillel rules kevan she-hutra le-tzorekh, hutra nami she-lo le-tzorekh – once carrying is permitted for the sake of food preparation on Yom Tov, it is permitted even for reasons aside from that of food preparation. Beit Shammai rejects this line of reasoning. Even Beit Hillel would agree that there needs to be some purpose in carrying in order for it to be permitted on Yom Tov; lugging around rocks is forbidden even according to Beit Hillel. The purpose can be the needs of a mitzva – like carrying a lulav to the synagogue or a Sefer Torah to study from, or the needs of simhat Yom Tov, enhancing the joyousness of the holiday. Rabbeinu Tam explains that a child can be taken outside because staying at home, or leaving family members behind, would detract from the simhat Yom Tov of both the child and his parents. Rabbenu Hananel explains that all of the cases in the Mishna are referring to situations where the object needs to be carried for the purpose of a mitzva– the child needs to be circumcised, the lulav to be shaken during Hallel in the synagogue, the Sefer Torah to be read from. Rashi, however, interprets the cases to be any need, even if it is not specifically a mitzva.
Beitza 11a-b: Using a Pestle on Yom Tov
11/09/2021 - 5th of Tishrei, 5782
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di mortar and pestleAnother case of muktze that is discussed by Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel is the case of an eli – a board of sorts that was ordinarily used to grind or crush things that cannot be done on Yom Tov. Can such a pestle be used for permitted food preparation – e.g. cutting meat – on Yom Tov, or is it considered muktze and cannot be moved? In the Mishna, Beit Shammai forbids the use of an eli, while Beit Hillel permits its use. Tosafot ask why the eli cannot be used according to Beit Shammai. Although the ordinary use of the eli is for acts that are forbidden on Yom Tov, this appears to be a case of a keli she-melakhto le-issur, le-tzorekh gufo – it is an implement which is ordinarily used for a forbidden purpose (which would make it muktze) for its own self – i.e. for another, permitted, purpose. Ordinarily such use – like cracking nuts with a hammer – is not considered muktze and would be permitted on Yom Tov. This question also appears in the Talmud Yerushalmi, which offers an answer similar to Tosafot, that this eli is muktze for other reasons beyond its being a utensil used for activities forbidden on Yom Tov. The additional source of muktze might be that it is a valuable implement which is muktze mahamat hisaron kis – because of its value – and cannot be used for another purpose (Tosafot) or it is a large utensil that has a specific place set aside and is not really used for purposes other than its central function (Tosafot R"id). According to this answer, Beit Hillel, who permits its use, does so only because they are lenient in order to encourage simhat Yom Tov – to enhance the joyousness of the holiday. The Me'iri gives a different explanation to the Mishna. According to him, Beit Shammai forbids use of the eli because is appears to be a ma'aseh hol – a weekday activity – something that is not accepted by Beit Hillel.
Beitza 10a-b: Setting Animals Aside for Use on Yom Tov
10/09/2021 - 4th of Tishrei, 5782
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Generally speaking, animals are considered muktze on Shabbat and Yom Tov. That is to say, farm animals whose normal activities are associated with melakhot – activities forbidden on those days – cannot be used. Thus, in the event that an animal is to be slaughtered for food on Yom Tov, it must be prepared or set aside for such use prior to the beginning of the holiday. The Mishnayot on our daf discuss doves that are set aside for food on Yom Tov. Beit Shammai rules that the doves must actually be handled to indicate that they have been chosen, while according to Beit Hillel it is enough to choose them by making a statement about which ones you want. It is interesting to note that in this case, all agree that the concept of muktze exists, apparently because animals are similar to the case of drying fruit, which - as we will see at the end of the tractate - is something that everyone agrees is muktze. In the case of drying fruit, once the fruit is put out to become dried it is clear to everyone that it has been set aside and will not be eaten – or even touched – until the drying process is complete. A similar idea exists in our case, where animals are set aside specifically for work (in the case of doves, they are usually raised to be trained as homing pigeons or carrier pigeons), and cannot be used for another purpose without a clear statement before the holiday. The Re'ah points out that this is true only of animals like doves that are not specifically raised to be used for food. Chickens or geese, for example, which are raised for slaughter, would not require such preparation. Nevertheless, according to the Yam Shel Shlomo it is appropriate to choose specific chickens or geese before Yom Tov and set them aside, as well, if they are to be slaughtered on Yom Tov. An obvious question that comes up regarding the Gemara's discussion of this matter is whether a person can announce before Yom Tov that the entire dovecote is set aside for slaughter for food on the holiday. Making such an announcement does not obligate one to use all of the doves, and would solve the Gemara's concerns with which birds were actually prepared. The Rashba argues that someone who makes such a statement can successfully avoid all problems. Rabbeinu Peretz, Rabbenu Yeruham and others say that this cannot be done because no one who raises doves would plan to destroy his entire dovecote, so the statement cannot be taken seriously.
Beitza 9a-b: The Appearance of Prohibition
09/09/2021 - 3rd of Tishrei, 5782
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The new Mishna on our daf  brings yet another disagreement between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel on the topic of food preparation on Yom Tov. If a person needs to climb up into a dovecote to bring down doves for food, Beit Shammai forbids moving a ladder from one dovecote to another, although he can shift it from one opening to another in the same dovecote. Beit Hillel permits even moving the ladder for one dovecote to another. R' Hanan bar Ami argues that the only disagreement is in public, when Beit Shammai is concerned with marit ayin. He is afraid that people will think that the ladder is being moved to assist in painting the roof – an activity forbidden on Yom Tov – while Beit Hillel is not concerned about that, since the dovecote indicates that the true nature of his activity is a permitted one. Were the dovecote in a private area, where there is no concern that someone will see and draw the wrong conclusion, even Beit Shammai permits moving the ladder.
The Gemara asks: Is that so? But didn't Rav Yehuda say that Rav said: Wherever the Sages prohibited an action due to the appearance of prohibition [marit ayin], even if one performs the act in his innermost chamber, where no one will see it, it is prohibited.
While our Gemara suggests that the tanna'im differ regarding this position, the Talmud Yerushalmi quotes a series of Mishnayot that clearly distinguish between activities done in public – which are forbidden – and in private – which are permitted, based upon which, the Yerushalmi rejects Rav's teaching entirely. The Rashba and others suggest that there is room to differentiate between cases where there is suspicion of an act that is truly forbidden (like our case where painting the roof is forbidden on Yom Tov) and cases where people mistakenly think that a given action is forbidden. In the latter cases the Sages forbade performing such an action publicly, but permitted it to be done in private. The Rambam rules that marit ayin applies even in private, and explains that our Mishna is a unique case where the Sages were lenient in order to encourage joyous celebration of the holiday.
Beitza 8a-b: Slaughtering a Koy on Yom Tov
08/09/2021 - 2nd of Tishrei, 5782
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On yesterday's daf we were introduced to the mitzva of kissuy ha-dam – the obligation to cover the blood of fowl or undomesticated animals that are slaughtered (see Vayikra 17:13). Thus, someone who performs Sheḥiṭa on chicken or venison would be obligated to cover the blood, whereas Sheḥiṭa on cattle – e.g. cows, sheep, goats – would not be obligated in this mitzva. The Gemara on our daf introduces a koy – an animal that has the features of both a wild animal and a domesticated one – and rules that such an animal cannot be slaughtered on Yom Tov, since it is not clear whether slaughtering a koy obligates the shohet in kissuy ha-dam. Were it not Yom Tov, we could simply cover the blood without reciting the blessing. Since it is Yom Tov, however, we cannot permit a melakha to be done if there is doubt as to whether it is truly an obligation in this case. Identifying the koy is a difficult task. Even though it is mentioned many times in the Mishna and Talmudic literature, that is not because it is a common animal, rather because its status between a wild and domesticated animal allows it to be a test case for many halakhot. The disagreement as to its identification began in the time of the Mishna, when some of the Sages argued that it is the offspring of a deer or similar animal with a goat. Others claim that it is a unique type of animal – an Ayal ha-bar. The Ayal ha-bar can be identified with the ovis musimon, which, according to many, is the forerunner of domesticated cattle. It is distinguished by its short hair and grey color, and it lives in mountainous regions, where it is a nimble climber – today mainly in uninhabited areas in Europe. It is likely that the clear similarities between a koy and a sheep, together with its being a wild animal, led to the Sages’ confusion about its classification. Its name – koy – and even the pronunciation of the name, are themselves the subject of disagreement.
Beitza 7a-b: Ritual Slaughter on Yom Tov
07/09/2021 - 1st of Tishrei, 5782
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We have learned that activities that are essential for food preparation are permitted on Yom Tov, based on Sh'mot 12:16. Among the activities that are part-and-parcel of preparing a holiday meal is Sheḥiṭa – ritual slaughter – without which fresh meat would not be available. [It should be noted that modern innovations such as refrigeration have relegated Sheḥiṭa to commercial slaughterhouses, and the kosher kitchen rarely deals directly with such halakhot.] di deker colorSome animals – specifically fowl and undomesticated animals – require a ritual called kissuy ha-dam, covering the blood of the slaughtered animal (see Vayikra 17:13). The Mishna (2a) takes for granted that a person can, theoretically, slaughter an animal for its meat on Yom Tov, but what should be done about covering the blood? Plowing and other types of digging are forbidden on Shabbat and Yom Tov; the act of covering the blood – while an important mitzva in connection with the act of  Sheḥiṭa– cannot be considered an essential part of food preparation. The Re'ah explains that even Beit Shammai agrees that there has to be some level of preparation prior to the holiday for covering the blood. Thus he does not permit digging, rather making use of an implement that already was in the ground.
Beitza 6a-b: If Someone Dies on Yom Tov
06/09/2021 - 29th of Elul, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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Rava teaches that if someone dies on Yom Tov and needs to be buried, non-Jews are brought to make the preparations and do the burial if it is the first day of Yom Tov; on the second day of Yom Tov, we allow Jews to do whatever is necessary. This is true not only on Pesah, Shavu'ot and Sukkot, but also on Rosh HaShana, when, as we learned yesterday, the second day is considered an extension of the first. The leniency connected with funerals stems from the Jewish attitude towards burial as an issue of kavod ha-beri'ot - basic human dignity, both for the deceased and for the family of the deceased. The Sages of the Talmud state unequivocally that kavod ha-beri'ot pushes aside Rabbinic laws of lo tasur (see Devarim 17:11); that is to say, many prohibitions established by Sages can be dispensed with since the mitzva of burying the dead takes precedence. Based on this, Rava teaches that on the first day of the holiday - when all melakhot are biblically forbidden for a Jew to perform, and asking a non-Jew to perform those activities is forbidden by the Sages - we permit a non-Jew to do whatever is necessary for the burial. On the second day of the holiday, which is, in its entirety, of Rabbinic origin, we dispense with all prohibitions connected with the funeral, as having Jews take care of the burial is considered to be an honor to the deceased. Given the importance given to these ceremonies, the Me'iri asks why we do not permit funerals to take place on Shabbat or Yom Kippur, on the condition that all forbidden activities be performed by non-Jews. He answers that the high level of holiness connected with those holidays led the Sages to establish their ordinances on those days as being on level with biblical prohibitions that cannot be pushed aside.
Beitza 5a-b: The Second Day of Rosh HaShana
05/09/2021 - 28th of Elul, 5781
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The discussion on yesterday's daf  was whether a beitza she-noldah be-Yom Tov (an egg that was laid on the holiday) was considered muktze on the second day of the holiday in the Diaspora. Our discussion focused on why we still keep a second day even at a time when we work with a set calendar and no longer need to communicate the establishment of the new month to far-flung communities. The Gemara on our daf teaches that, on Rosh HaShana, all are in agreement that an egg laid the first day cannot be used on the second day, either. The Gemara points to a Mishna in Rosh HaShana (30b) as the source for this rule. The Mishna there told of an incident that took place in Jerusalem, where the witnesses who came to testify about the beginning of the month of Tishrei arrived in the late afternoon. By the time the Sanhedrin accepted their statement and announced that that day was Rosh HaShana, the service in the Temple had already begun and the Levi'im erred in the mizmor that they had begun singing. From that time on, two days of Rosh HaShana became normative, even in Israel. Rabba comments that following the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, the concern about mistakes in the Temple service no longer existed, pointing out that Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai once again accepted testimony about Rosh Hodesh Tishrei all day.
Abaye said to him: But didn't Rav and Shmuel both say that an egg [on the second day of Rosh HaShana] is prohibited? Rabba said to him: Your question is out of place; I say to you a statement in the name of the distinguished tanna Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai, and you say to me a ruling of the amora'im Rav and Shmuel? The Gemara asks: And according to the opinion of Rav and Shmuel, isn't it true that the mishna is difficult, as it indicates that the special status of Rosh HaShana has been revoked? The Gemara answers that this is not difficult: This ruling is for us, those who live outside of Eretz Yisrael, who have kept the ancient custom of observing two Festival days, and therefore Rosh HaShana is still considered one long day and constitute a single sanctity. Conversely, that ruling of the mishna is for them, the inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael.
The simple reading of this Gemara seems to imply that, in Israel, only one day of Rosh HaShana is celebrated (see Rashi, who clearly understands the Gemara this way). The Ge'onim of Babylon, as well as the Ri"f and others, argue that Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai did not change the basic rule, and even during his time Rosh HaShana was kept as a two day holiday. Nevertheless, other rishonim, including the Ramban and Rabbenu Efra'im, rule that in Israel only one day is kept, not only in the immediate vicinity of the Sanhedrin that establishes the new month, but in all of Israel, since we now rely on a set calendar. There is historical evidence which seems to indicate that Rosh HaShana was kept for only one day in Israel until immigrants from Provence came and changed the tradition. Today the accepted practice is to celebrate Rosh HaShana for two days in Israel as well as in the Diaspora.
Beitza 4a-b: Second Day of Yom Tov in the Diaspora
04/09/2021 - 27th of Elul, 5781
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The Mishna (2a) discussed whether an egg that is laid on Yom Tov can be used on that day, taking for granted that it can certainly be used once the holiday has ended. How about the situation, common in the Diaspora, where we celebrate two days of Yom Tov, one after another? Can an egg laid on the first day of Yom Tov be used on the second day? The Gemara teaches that this is the subject of a disagreement between Rav, who permits its use on the second day, and Rav Asi, who forbids it. Given the reality that, today, we operate with a set calendar, the basis for the continued tradition of keeping two days of Yom Tov in the Diaspora demands explanation. While Rav Saadia Ga'on writes that keeping a second day of Yom Tov in the Diaspora is based on biblical law, Rav Hai Ga'on argues that he only said that as a response to heretics, but it should not be accepted as a true halakhic statement. His explanation is that although the second day was established for reasons of doubt (i.e. Diaspora communities oftentimes did not receive the information about the establishment of the new month until after the Yom Tov began), it was a rule already established by the prophets, which carries with it significant halakhic weight. The prophets needed to establish the second day because of the distance of Jewish communities from Israel, where the Sanhedrin sat and established the months based on testimony from witnesses. According to the Rambam in his Sefer Mitzvot, the calendar that we currently use is, itself, the establishment of the Sanhedrin, who, during the time of Hillel ha-Sheni, determined the beginning of every month. Indeed, the Ra'avan quotes the Sages of Magence as teaching that the two days of Yom Tov are not kept because of the question regarding the actual date of the holiday, but rather as a takkana - a Rabbinic ordinance that the holiness of the Yom Tov extends for an extra day. This helps us understand why Diaspora Jews continue to recite the blessings for the holiday even on the second day, which we ordinarily would not do if the mitzva were only being done mi-safek - for reasons of doubt. The Hatam Sofer writes that when we recite the blessing asher kidshanu be-mitzvotav ve-tzivanu - that we are fulfilling a commandment with this activity - the reference is not to the activities of the second day, but rather to the concept of the holiday, which is what we are truly commanded.
Beitza 3a-b: Supporting a Bed on an Egg
03/09/2021 - 26th of Elul, 5781
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In discussing the use of a newly laid egg on Shabbat or Yom Tov, the Gemara quotes a baraita which teaches that using such an egg is forbidden; nevertheless it can be covered with a bowl to protect it and then it can be used when Shabbat or Yom Tov has ended. The examples given by the baraita of possible uses for the egg are of some interest - the baraita suggests that it might have been used to cover a utensil or to support a bed. Support a bed!? The rishonim were quick to ask why the baraita would suggest supporting a large, heavy object like a bed with an egg. In truth, mechanically speaking, the structure of an egg is, theoretically, very strong - strong enough to withstand enormous pressure without breaking, even though its shell is very thin. Practically, however, without a specially prepared apparatus, it would be impossible to have an egg actually support something large and heavy. Therefore, the logical approach to the baraita is the one suggested by the Me'iri and others. They explain that the "bed" referred to is not a bed that people sleep on, but rather a type of bowl or other utensil that is used on a table, which, because of its shape - some say that it has a rounded bottom like that of a small ship - needs to be supported by something. An egg, apparently, was the object of choice to hold up this "bed." To support his theory, the Me'iri points out a word in Arabic for such a table utensil - hamta - which is similar to the Hebrew word for bed: ha-mita. In Mishnayot Ma'asrot (1:9) we find the word hamita used in such a context, and the Rambam in his Perush ha-Mishnayot there translates the word as a small earthen vessel that is sometimes used on the table.
Beitza 2a-b: An Egg Laid on a Festival
02/09/2021 - 25th of Elul, 5781
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One of the Rabbinic ordinances developed by the Sages to protect the sanctity of Shabbat and holidays is the rule forbidding moving objects that are considered muktze - that is, things that a person puts out of his mind and does not intend on using during Shabbat or Yom Tov. This can be done either by a conscious act or decision on the part of the person, or alternatively if the object is not usable for any activities that are permitted on Shabbat. Apart from this general statement, there are many differences in how muktze is defined. Some of the basic definitions are as follows:
  • Raw materials that are in a form that does not allow them to be used on Shabbat
  • Utensils whose sole use involves an activity that is forbidden on Shabbat
  • Objects that are not used because they are disgusting
  • Objects whose value is so great that they are used only for very specific tasks
Other categories of muktze include things that a person actively sets aside so that they are not used on Shabbat, and nolad – something that could not have been prepared for use before Shabbat because it was "born" or came into existence only on Shabbat. It is this case of nolad that Massekhet Beitza opens with - beitza she-nolda be-Yom Tov - an egg that was laid on the holiday and did not exist when Yom Tov began. Is it considered ready for use on the holiday, or will it be considered muktze since it did not exist beforehand? Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel disagree on this point. Beit Shammai permits the use of the egg on Yom Tov, while Beit Hillel forbids it. The Gemara offers several different explanations for their disagreement, including the following:
Rabba said: We are dealing with a chicken designated for food and we are dealing with an egg that was laid on a Festival that occurs after Shabbat, i.e., on a Sunday. And the relevant issue is not the halakhot of muktze; rather, one may not eat the egg due to the prohibition against preparation from Shabbat to a Festival. And in this regard, Rabba holds that any egg laid now was already fully developed yesterday, and merely emerged from the chicken today. Consequently, an egg laid on a Festival that occurred on a Sunday may not be eaten, as it was prepared on Shabbat, despite the fact that it was prepared naturally, by Heaven, rather than by man.
Thus, Beit Hillel forbids use of the egg because it was prepared on Shabbat for use on Sunday (he also forbids it when Yom Tov falls on another day of the week, lest someone mistakenly permit it on Sunday, as well). It is not clear when exactly halakha considers an egg to be "completed," but from a biological perspective, it takes almost exactly 24 hours from the time that the egg is released from the ovary of the chicken to the time that it completes the preparation process and is laid. Thus, Rabba is correct that every egg that is laid has been prepared from the day before.
Sukka 56a-b: The Family of Bilga
01/09/2021 - 24th of Elul, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The closing story in Massekhet Sukka is a sad one. In it we learn of the priestly family of Bilga, whose rights and privileges in the Temple were curtailed. Rav Shlomo Adani explains in his Melekhet Shlomo that the punishments - receiving their portion of the lehem ha-panim (the shewbread) in the south, and having their ring for slaughtering and their window sealed up - all indicated that they were finished with their work in the Temple and were about to leave. What led to these restrictions? The Gemara gives two explanations:
  1. When it was their turn to serve in the Temple the family came late - or perhaps, as suggested by the Rashash, not all of them came - and the next family was forced to work a double shift to make up for their absence.
  2. Miriam the daughter of Bilga rejected Judaism and married a Greek soldier. When the Greeks entered the Temple sanctuary and defiled it, Miriam kicked the altar with her shoe and shouted "Lokos, Lokos [wolf, wolf], until when will you consume the property of the Jewish people, and yet you do not stand with them when they face exigent circumstances?" (The Maharsha explains that the metaphor of the altar as a wolf stemmed from the parallel between a wolf that attacked and ate sheep and the altar upon which the daily korban tamid - a sheep - was brought regularly.)
The Jerusalem Talmud sees her behavior as so problematic that it asks why the family of Bilga did not lose their rights entirely, answering that the 24 family mishmarot (watches) were an essential part of the order of the Temple service and could not be easily done away with.
Do we penalize the entire watch of Bilga because of his daughter? Abaye said: Yes, as people say, the speech of a child in the marketplace is learned either from that of his father or from that of his mother. Miriam would never have said such things had she not heard talk of that kind in her parents' home. The Gemara asks: And due to Miriam's father and mother, do we penalize an entire watch? Abaye said: Woe unto the wicked, woe unto his neighbor.
In order to end the Massekhet on a happier note, the Gemara also quotes Abaye as teaching, "Good fortune to a tzaddik, and to his neighbor, as well.”
Sukka 55a-b: The Song of the Day
31/08/2021 - 23th of Elul, 5781
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We traditionally close our daily morning prayers with one of the mizmorei Tehillim. This mizmor is taken from the daily Psalm sung when the morning sacrifice - the tamid shel shahar - was brought. Our Gemara quotes a baraita that describes how, in the Beit HaMikdash, a special mizmor was sung in connection with the musaf sacrifice on each day of Sukkot. It is interesting to note that only the mizmorim for hol ha-mo'ed - the intermediary days - are enumerated in the baraita, while the holidays themselves are not explained. Although it does not appear in our Gemara, Massekhet Soferim does offer Psalms for the holidays, as well; mizmor 76, which refers to God's sukka (see verse 3) is mentioned as the mizmor sung on the first day, and mizmor 12, entitled lamenatze'ah al ha-sheminit was the Psalm of Shemini Atzeret, the eighth day of the Sukkot celebrations. There are a number of explanations given for the choice of particular mizmorim for each day of Sukkot. The Me'iri summarizes them as follows:
  • Day one (as referred to by the Gemara, but it is actually the second day of Sukkot): Mizmor 29, which includes "the voice of God over the waters" and is understood as referring to nisukh ha-mayim - the water libation.
  • Day two (third day): Mizmor 50, which mentions the obligation to fulfill the vows that were made to God (see verse 14), something that was traditionally taken care of while in Jerusalem for the holiday.
  • Day three and Day four (fourth and fifth days): Mizmor 94, whose focus is on God taking vengeance against the enemies of the Jewish people. During Second Temple times, when the Jews were subject to oppression by outside forces, this would have been an appropriate Psalm to say in prayer.
  • Day five (sixth day): Mizmor 81, whose closing passage discusses the generous produce yielded by the Land of Israel (see verse 17).
  • Day six (Hoshanah Rabbah - the seventh day): Mizmor 82, whose focus is on God sitting in judgment. This is appropriate, for the last day of hol ha-mo'ed Sukkot - Hoshanah Rabbah - is traditionally seen as a day of judgment for the year's supply of water.
According to Rashi, aside from days three and four (when a single mizmor was split in half), the entire psalm was sung together with the musaf sacrifice. The Ritva argues that only a selection of the mizmor was chosen to accompany the korban.
Sukka 54a-b: The Timing of the Holidays
30/08/2021 - 22th of Elul, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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Our Gemara discusses the timing of Sukkot and comments that the first day cannot fall out on a Friday. If the new moon of the month of Tishrei appears on a Friday, which would cause the 15th of the month (the first day of Sukkot) to fall out on Friday, as well, we push off the first day of the month - Rosh HaShana - to Shabbat. The Gemara explains that this reconfiguration of the lunar calendar is necessary because we want to avoid having Yom Kippur, which is on the tenth day of Tishrei, fall out on a Sunday. The discussion in the Gemara is based on the contemporary lunar calendar which is a set calendar and is not based on testimony from witnesses who come to the Sanhedrin to report on their seeing the new moon. According to our calendar, Rosh HaShana can never fall out on Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday, so Sukkot, which is exactly two weeks later on the 15th of the month, cannot fall on those days either. This arrangement is made in order to avoid having Yom Kippur fall on either Friday or Sunday, since two days in a row (including Shabbat) on which all work – even cooking – is forbidden, would be difficult for people. According to some sources, it appears that even when the calendar was based on witnesses who came to testify that they saw the new moon, various methods were employed to insure that Yom Kippur would not fall out immediately before or after Shabbat. Nevertheless, it is likely that, on occasion, it would be impossible to shift the day, since a month cannot be less than 29 days long (according to our present-day calendar, Rosh HaShana is sometimes pushed off from the actual new moon by two full days to accommodate the needs of these holidays) and Yom Kippur would fall out on Friday or Sunday. According to the Rambam, the shift in the calendar serves another purpose, as well. He believes that pushing off Rosh HaShana allows for a more precise correlation between the solar calendar and the lunar months, correcting minor discrepancies that exist even when the leap year is added at the correct time.
Sukka 53a-b: Are You Here?
29/08/2021 - 21th of Elul, 5781
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As we learned in the Mishna at the beginning of the perek (50a), the Sages and other members of the community would dance and sing as part of the simhat bet ha-sho'evah (joyous water libation) procession. The Gemara on our daf  quotes a tosefta that recorded some of the songs. According to the tosefta, those dancers who grew up devoted to Torah would sing praise for the fact that their youth did not embarrass their old age. The ba'ale teshuvah - those who became committed to keeping the Torah only later in life - sang in praise of their old age, which made up for the sins of their youth. All sang together, praising those who did not sin and encouraging those who did to repent.
It is taught in the Tosefta: They said about Hillel the Elder that when he was rejoicing at the Celebration of the Place of the Drawing of the Water he said this: If I am here, everyone is here; and if I am not here, who is here? In other words, one must consider himself as the one upon whom it is incumbent to fulfill obligations, and he must not rely on others to do so.
Hillel ha-Zaken lived during the Second Temple period and participated in these processions. His unusual comment is interpreted by Rashi to refer to God - i.e., Hillel is speaking on behalf of God, that when His presence is in a given place, then everything is there, but if His presence is missing, then there is nothing of value in that place. Some explain that Hillel was speaking on behalf of the community at large, and was simply including himself among them. The Talmud Yerushalmi explains that Hillel's statement reflected what he saw going on in the crowd. If the people were dancing for their own pleasure and not for the joy of the holiday, then he would sing that if the community were not gathered for the appropriate purpose, then who was there? Does God need crowds of people in the Temple? Does He not have an infinite number of angels who praise him? On the other hand, if Hillel saw that the people were dancing with the proper intent in praise of God, he would sing out that since the community is here, God desires the Jewish People more than anything else and it is as though everything is here.
Sukka 52a-b: The Evil Inclination
28/08/2021 - 20th of Elul, 5781
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Most of today's daf  focuses on the yetzer ha-ra - the evil inclination. Rav Avira expounds: There are seven names given to the yetzer ha-ra:
  1. God called it ra - evil (see Bereshit 8:21)
  2. Moshe called it arel - uncircumcised (see Devarim 10:16)
  3. King David called it tameh - defiled (see Tehillim 51:12)
  4. King Solomon called it soneh - hated (see Mishle 25:21-22)
  5. Yeshayahu called it mikhshol - a stumbling block (see Yeshayahu 57:14)
  6. Yehezkel called it even - a stone (see Yehezkel 36:26)
  7. Yo'el called it hatzefoni – the hidden one (see Yo'el 2:20)
One explanation for the different names is that they express different levels of evil, ranging from the latent evil that exists in every person (ra), to the ability of the yetzer ha-ra to hide the good from a person (arel), to act as an enemy by encouraging evil behaviors. Furthermore, even someone who tries to avoid it by casting it aside will find himself stumbling over it (mikhshol) in the form of a difficult to remove (even) temptation that is hard to even locate in order to avoid it, since it is hidden (tzafun) deeply in one's heart. The Gemara also introduces us to a passage in Zekhariah (12:12) that describes a eulogy that is attended by all the people of the land. According to one opinion, this is the funeral of the yetzer ha-ra in the next world. At that time it will appear before the righteous as a huge mountain, which leads them to lament, "how could we have overcome this great mountain," and before the sinners as a strand of hair, leading them to lament, "it would have been so easy to overcome this thin strand of hair." Why does the yetzer ha-ra appear differently to different groups of people? The Ri"af suggests that, as time passes, the yetzer ha-ra grows larger and larger. The sinners who trip up right away cannot comprehend how they were felled by something so small. The righteous, who withstand temptation, see it as a huge obstacle that they still managed to overcome.
Sukka 51a-b: The Return to Egypt
27/08/2021 - 19th of Elul, 5781
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The Mishna on our daf  states: Anyone who has not seen the simhat bet ha-sho'eva - the joyousness of the water libation ceremony - has not seen true joy in their lifetime. [caption id="attachment_9297" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Celebration in the Temple wtih poles and basins in the background Celebration in the Temple wtih poles and basins in the background[/caption] The Mishna describes how the Sages would sing songs and juggle torches, accompanied by an orchestra of levi'im, all to the light of large candelabra, which were large bowls of oil lit by the young kohanim who climbed ladders to do so. Another impressive sight described by the baraita was the great synagogue in Alexandria, Egypt, which held double 600,000 people (the number 600,000 is significant because it was the number of people who left Egypt to come to Israel). The synagogue was so large that someone was appointed by the congregants to stand on a wooden platform in the middle and wave a flag so that everyone would know when it was time to respond "Amen" to the hazzan. Furthermore, every guild had its own section in the synagogue so that when a stranger would come, he could find his fellow tradesmen who would help support him and his family. With this grand introduction, the Gemara concludes by quoting Abaye, who says that this entire community was destroyed by Alexander Mokdon because of their disregard for the passage forbidding Jews to return to Egypt (see Devarim 17:16). In the Jerusalem Talmud, Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai is quoted as saying that the prohibition against returning to Egypt appears three times in the Torah, and when Jews returned for the third time, their fate was sealed. The Maharsha connects this with the story at the end of Sefer Yirmiyahu, where the prophet not only forbids the people from leaving Israel and going to Egypt, but also tells them that if they choose to return they will be killed by sword, starvation and disease (Yirmiyahu 42:17). It should be noted that Alexander Mokdon cannot possibly be the general who wiped out the Jewish community in Alexandria, something already pointed out by the rishonim. The story apparently refers to the Roman Caesar Targenos (Trajan), who put down a Jewish rebellion against Rome about 60 years after the destruction of the Second Temple.
Sukka 50a-b: Joyous Celebration on Sukkot
26/08/2021 - 18th of Elul, 5781
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Although there is a mitzva of simha - joyous celebration - on all of the pilgrimage holidays - the shalosh regalim - there is a unique emphasis on this aspect of the holiday on Sukkot. In order to fulfill this mitzva, a number of special activities were instituted in The Temple: more music was played, a system of unusual torches was lit up, and the physical set-up of the grounds of the mikdash was changed to accommodate the large number of revelers in a safe and protected manner. The fifth perek of Massekhet Sukka, which begins on our daf, focuses on these matters. The first Mishna teaches the rule of the halil - the flute played during these festivities - which could not be used as part of the celebrations on Shabbat or Yom Tov. (Although the Mishna mentions the halil specifically, there was an entire orchestra of instruments. The halil is focused on because, according to the Rambam, it was the most important instrument, or because, according to the Bartenura, it was the one that was heard most clearly.)
It was stated that Rav Yehuda and Rav Eina disagreed: One of them teaches that the celebration was called the Celebration of Drawing [sho'eva] and one of them teaches that it was called the significant [hashuva] celebration. Mar Zutra said: The one who taught sho'eva is not mistaken, and the one who taught hashuva is not mistaken. The one who taught sho'eva is not mistaken, as it is written: "And you shall draw [ushavtem] water with joy from the wells of salvation" (Yeshayahu 12:3), and its name reflects the fact that it is a celebration of the water libation. And the one who taught hashuva is not mistaken, as Rav Nahman said: It is a significant mitzva and it originated from the six days of Creation.
This difficult statement is explained by Rashi as referring to the shittin, which, as we learned on the last daf, are thought to have existed since the time of creation. Others suggest that this is connected with a midrash that describes how disturbed the lower waters were when they were separated from the upper waters on the second day of creation (see Bereshit 1:6-8). According to the midrash, God promises them that they will be raised up to similar heights through the water libation, which is why nisukh ha-mayim is related to the creation of the world.
Sukka 49a-b: Down the Drain
25/08/2021 - 17th of Elul, 5781
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On the previous daf we learned about the two bowls [caption id="attachment_9273" align="alignleft" width="300"]Replica of libation basin Replica of libation basin[/caption] - sefalim - that drained into the foundation of the Temple. Rabba bar bar Ḥana quotes Rabbi Yohanan as interpreting a passage in Shir ha-Shirim (7:2) as teaching that these drains - shittin - existed from the time of creation. The rishonim and aharonim point out that it is difficult to reconcile Rabbi Yohanan's teaching that the shittin are part of God's creation with a statement made by him later on in the Gemara that describes King David as having them dug. Many answers are given to this question - e.g. that they were closed up at some point and that King David reopened them, or that Rabbi Yohanan is presenting the opinions of two different tanna'im. The Maharsha explains simply that the term shittin refers to different things. In our discussion they are the pipes through which the wine and water that are spilled on the altar drain down into the Kidron Valley; in the later statement the shittin (or shattot) are the foundation of the altar itself. Rabbi Yosei interprets a passage in Sefer Yeshayahu (5:1-2) as meaning that these passages led down into the depths of the earth. The Ge'onim quote a tradition that the shittin were an amah in width and 600 amot deep.
It was taught in a baraita that Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok said: There was a small gap between the ramp and the altar west of the ramp, and once in seventy years young priests would descend there and gather from there the congealed wine left over from the libations that set over time, which resembled round cakes of dried and pressed figs. They would then come and burn it in sanctity in the Temple courtyard, as it is stated: "In sanctity shall you pour a libation of strong drink unto the Lord" (Bamidbar 28:7); just as its pouring is in sanctity, so too must its burning be in sanctity.
The Me'iri explains this to mean that the kohanim did not actually go down to the very bottom, but that they would clean as deep as they could using implements that were available to them.
Sukka 48a-b: Water Libations
24/08/2021 - 16th of Elul, 5781
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The Mishna describes the nisukh ha-mayim -the water libation on Sukkot - which was done together with the daily tamid in the morning. Water was brought from the Shiloah spring up to the Temple with great fanfare.
[caption id="attachment_9273" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Replica of libation basin Replica of libation basin[/caption] One would fill a golden jug with a capacity of three log with water from the Siloam pool. When those who went to bring the water reached the Gate of the Water, so called because the water for the libation was brought through this gate leading to the Temple courtyard, they sounded a tekia, sounded a terua, and sounded another tekia as an expression of joy. The priest ascended the ramp of the altar and turned to his left. There were two silver basins - there into which he poured the water...And the appointee says to the one pouring the water into the silver basin: Raise your hand, so that his actions would be visible, as one time a Sadducee priest intentionally poured the water on his feet, as the Sadducees did not accept the oral tradition requiring water libation, and in their rage all the people pelted him with their etrogim.
The background to this story involves the different sects that lived during the Second Temple period and their approaches to the Oral Law taught by the Sages. Many of the kohanim were tzedukim, who did not accept the traditions of the Sages. Unlike nisukh ha-yayin - the wine libation - which is clearly written in the Torah, the nisukh ha-mayim - the water libation - was a tradition handed down from Moshe on Mount Sinai, and it was not accepted by the tzedukim. The particular story referred to in our Gemara is described at great length by Josephus. According to him, the individual who poured the water on his feet rather than on the altar was the Hasmonean King Alexander Yannai, who rejected the teaching of the Sages. After the people - who supported the interpretation of the Sages - pelted him with etrogim, the king summoned the non-Jewish guard, and they killed many of the people who were on the Temple grounds..
Sukka 47a-b: The Eighth Day of Sukkot
23/08/2021 - 15th of Elul, 5781
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In the Land of Israel, the holiday of Sukkot is seven days long and the "eighth day" of the holiday is Shemini Atzeret, which is a separate holiday, as indicated by the fact that it does not have the mitzvot of lulav, of sukka or of the water libation. The situation outside of Israel is more complicated, since during the time of the Mishna when the announcement of the new month was made by the Beit Din HaGadol in Jerusalem, it was sent by messenger. Therefore, places outside of Israel could not be sure when the holiday actually began, and because of this uncertainty, they kept two days of Yom Tov. Diaspora communities continue keeping this tradition to this day, even though we now operate with a set calendar and all communities know when the new month and the holidays fall out based on the calendar. Based on this, the "eighth day of Sukkot" presents something of a problem. Should we treat it as a separate holiday or is it still considered part of Sukkot? Two versions of a disagreement between Rav and Rabbi Yohanan are presented by the Gemara. According to the first version, all agree that Diaspora Jews are obligated to sit in the sukka on the eighth day; the disagreement is whether they make a blessing on the mitzva of sukka. According to the second version, everyone agrees that a blessing is not made on the sukka; the disagreement is whether people should be sitting in the sukka on that day at all. The Sefat Emet explains that all opinions in the first version assume that there cannot be any problem with sitting in the sukka. Even the concern of bal tosif – that a person is not allowed to add to the mitzvot of the Torah – does not apply in this case, because no clear act of mitzva is being done in this case. Therefore you cannot lose anything by sitting there. This may help explain why none of the amora'im suggest that we should continue taking the lulav and etrog on the eighth day in the Diaspora. The Ran adds that as we have learned, taking the lulav and etrog after the first day of Sukkot is a Rabbinic obligation, and there is no reason to extend that Rabbinic obligation to a day that is, itself, considered Sukkot only from a Rabbinic perspective. The rishonim grapple with the second version, however. Why should one of the amora'im rule that we not be obligated to sit in the sukka on a day that might be considered Sukkot? The Ran and the Ritva explain that this is only true because of the present day situation when we really do know the correct day of the holiday, and the people in the Diaspora keep two days of Yom Tov only out of respect for the traditions of their forefathers. Thus there is room to be lenient when the two holidays would end up in conflict with one-another.
Sukka 46a-b: Commanded in the Mitzva of the Lulav
22/08/2021 - 14th of Elul, 5781
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We have already established that outside of the Temple, on a biblical level the mitzva of lulav is only on the first day of the holiday; our tradition of taking the lulav and etrog for the entire seven days of Sukkot is zekher le-Mikdash – a commemoration of the Temple where it was a mitzva to take the lulav every day of the holiday (see Sukka 41). This is summed up in our Gemara, where Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi declares that only the first day is the mitzvat lulav (the commandment of lulav); the rest of the week is mitzvat zekenim (the commandment of the Elders). The Rashash argues that there is a practical difference being suggested here. According to Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi, only on the first day should a person bless asher kidishanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu al netilat lulav – that we are commanded in the mitzva of taking a lulav. On other days the blessing that should be recited is asher kidishanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu al mitzvat zekenim – that we are commanded in the mitzva of following the words of the Elders. This is also indicated in the Talmud Yerushalmi. The Gemara notes: And Rav also held that the blessing over the mitzva of lulav is recited all seven days, and one recites the blessing even on the six days when the mitzva is rabbinic law, as Rabbi Hiyya bar Ashi said that Rav said: One who lights a Hanukkah light must recite a blessing. According to Rav, the mitzva of lulav is for the entire week, even if its basis is a Rabbinic enactment. This is apparent from Rav's ruling with regard to Hanukkah candles, where the blessing that is recited is asher kidishanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu lehadlik ner shel Hanukkah - that we are commanded in the mitzva of lighting the Hanukkah candles. In answer to the Gemara's query "where are we commanded in this mitzva?" (after all, the Hanukkah story takes place during the Second Temple period, well after the Torah was written), the pasuk  of lo tasur (see Devarim 17:9-11) is given, which indicates that we must listen to the words of the priests and judges of our time.
Sukka 45a-b: Performing the Mitzva of Aravah
21/08/2021 - 13th of Elul, 5781
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The Mishna describes how the mitzva of aravah was done. [caption id="attachment_9261" align="alignleft" width="300"]The willows of Motza The willows of Motza[/caption] There was a place called Motza, which is a village just a few kilometers to the south of Jerusalem, where the aravot were gathered for use in the Temple. This village still exists; it is first mentioned in Sefer Yehoshua (18:26-28) as one of the cities of the tribe of Binyamin. In the time of the Mishna the Romans established it as a garrison town to house the soldiers who protected Jerusalem. Apparently this was a place with unique willow trees whose branches were long enough to lean over the altar when they were placed next to it. Every day of Sukkot, the people would circle the mizbe'ah (altar) one time, and on the seventh day they would walk around it seven times. The Talmud Yerushalmi explains that this was done in remembrance of the victory in Yeriho (see Yehoshua chapter 6), when the Jewish people circled the city once a day for six days and seven times on the seventh day before the walls of the city collapsed. The Arukh LaNer comments that this fits in with the theme of the holiday of Sukkot, which celebrates specifically God's miracles on behalf of the Jewish people in the land of Israel. In a similar vein, the Maharsha says that on Sukkot we are obligated to commemorate the miracles that God did on our behalf, which is why we invoke a memory of the public miracle of the walls of Yeriho collapsing. Upon completing the procession around the mizbe'ah, the people would say yofi lekha mizbe'ah, yofi lekha mizbe'ah – proclaiming the beauty of God's altar. The Arukh LaNer explains that there was a particular reason to compliment the altar on Sukkot, either because it was the focus of the processions that take place on the holiday or because more sacrifices are brought on Sukkot than on any other holiday.
Sukka 44a-b: The Source of the Mitzva of Aravah
20/08/2021 - 12th of Elul, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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With regard to the mitzva of aravah that was discussed on yesterday's daf,  Rabbi Abbahu quotes Rabbi Yohanan as saying that it was a mitzva established by the prophets (yesod nevi'im), while Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi taught that it was a tradition of the prophets (minhag nevi'im). The difference between the two opinions is that if the aravah is a yesod nevi'im, the implication is that the prophets established it as an obligation, and someone who fulfills the commandment will make a berakhah on it beforehand. If, on the other hand, it is a minhag nevi'im, that merely indicates that the prophets themselves performed this ritual and that others, seeing them do it, chose to accept it upon themselves. If that is the case, the aravah does not merit a berakhah like other Rabbinic commandments.
Rabbi Zeira said to Rabbi Abbahu: Did Rabbi Yohanan actually say that? Didn’t Rabbi Yohanan say in the name of Rabbi Nehunya of the valley of Beit Hortan: The halakha of the ten saplings, the mitzvah of the willow branch in the Temple, and the mitzva of the water libation on the altar during the festival of Sukkot are each a halakha transmitted to Moses from Sinai? How then could he attribute the origin of the mitzva of the willow branch to the prophets?
After a moment’s hesitation, Rabbi Abbahu explained that this commandment is, in fact, a halakhah leMoshe mi-Sinai, however the tradition was forgotten and the prophets came and reestablished it. The commentaries raise a basic question about this answer. In general we believe that nevi'im do not have the ability to give new rulings about matters of halakhah through their powers of prophecy (according to the Rambam attempting to do so is an indication of a false prophet). According to that, how could the nevi'im reestablish a forgotten halakha leMoshe mi-Sinai? In his commentary to Massekhet Sukka, Rav Zvi Hirsch Chajes suggests that these prophets did not reestablish the mitzva of aravah based on their prophecy, rather they did so based on their ability to analyze and study the relevant texts and halakhot.
Sukka 43a-b: Other Mitzvot of the Holiday
19/08/2021 - 11th of Elul, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The fourth perek of Massekhet Sukka focuses on other mitzvot of the holiday aside from taking the lulav and etrog or sleeping in the sukka. Some of these commandments are connected specifically with the Temple, and today, with the Temple destroyed, we no longer perform these mitzvot or we only commemorate them without being able to actually fulfill them. These mitzvot include:
  • Circling the altar in the Temple with the aravah
  • Reciting full Hallel
  • Engaging in the simhat ha-hag – the joy of the festival – by eating the korban shelamim
  • The water libation on the altar
  • The halil – playing the flute – which accompanied the water libation as part of the holiday celebration.
Our daf discusses the mitzva of aravah, which involved circling the altar in the Temple every day, and circling it seven times on the seventh day of Sukkot. Most commentaries explain that this mitzva was only done by kohanim, since no one else was permitted to enter the sanctuary where the mizbe'ah was. Some of the Ge'onim argue that the people did not actually walk around the mizbe'ah, rather they surrounded the altar on all sides, and the people who were not kohanim stayed in the area that was permitted to them. Rabbi Yitzhak ibn Gi'ot argues that for this mitzva an exception was made and everyone was allowed to circle the mizbe'ah. The commandment of the aravah does not appear explicitly in the Torah, and several possible sources are cited, among them that it is a halakha leMoshe mi-Sinai or that it was established by the prophets. In any case, the Sages felt that it was so important that it was to take place even when the seventh day of the holiday fell out on Shabbat. This ruling disturbed the baitusim, who went so far as to hide the aravot that had been prepared for use on Shabbat. The Gemara relates that the aravot were uncovered by the local people who handed them to the kohanim to use. The baitusim were one of the deviant sects during the Second Temple period who did not accept the ruling of the Sages. The Gemara does not make clear what differences existed between the baitusim and the tzedukim, although from the stories that appear it is the baitusim who tried to use trickery in order to uproot the rules of the Sages and impose their rulings on the populace.
Sukka 42a-b: Those Who Know How, Must Do
18/08/2021 - 10th of Elul, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The final Mishna in our perek closes with the statement "a minor who knows how to wave [a lulav] is obligated in the mitzva of lulav." This is one of the statements in the Mishna that teach the concept of hinukh – of educating children before they are obligated in mitzvot on a biblical level. The baraita that appears in the Gemara expands on this idea, enumerating commandments that a child becomes obligated in – for reasons of education – as soon as he knows how to perform them. Aside from lulav they include:
  • A child who knows how to wrap himself in clothing is obligated in tzitzit.
  • When a child knows how to take care of tefillin, his father should purchase a pair for him.
  • When he knows how to speak, his father should teach him Torah and keri'at shema.
  • The child of a kohen who knows how to bless the congregation can already receive tithes.
  • Once a child can eat and recognize food, he should be included in the korban Pesah and a ka-zayit (an olive-size piece) of the sacrifice should be set aside for him.
Rav Hamnuna explains that teaching Torah does not mean learning complicated ideas, rather the passage in Devarim (33:4) that emphasizes the connection between the Torah and the Jewish people. The Yerushalmi interprets the baraita to mean that a child who is old enough to learn to speak should be taught lashon Torah – the language of the Torah – that is to say, he should be taught how to speak Hebrew. Once he knows Hebrew he should be taught keri'at shema. Rabbenu Yehonatan explains the idea of the kohen's son participating in blessing the congregation as a public statement that he is a kohen, removing any suspicion that he is living in the kohen's house as a guest or even as an eved – a slave. Once this statement is made, he is permitted to receive terumah like any kohen.
Sukka 41a-b: For How Long Do We Celebrate with the Lulav and Etrog?
17/08/2021 - 9th of Elul, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The pasuk 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 the rest of the country (medinah), 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 anyplace outside of the Temple – including the Old City of Jerusalem – is considered medinah 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 Me'iri 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.
Sukka 40a-b: The Severity of the Sabbatical Year
16/08/2021 - 8th of Elul, 5781
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Our Gemara continues discussing the rules of the Sabbatical Year that were introduced by the last Mishna (39a) in the context of purchasing an etrog during the shemitta year. Our Gemara brings a baraita that emphasizes the severity of shemitta, in that even forbidden business dealings with shemitta fruit, which is referred to as avakah shel shevi'it – "the dust of the Sabbatical Year laws" – leads to severe punishment. Calling the laws forbidding business dealings with shemitta fruit avakah shel shevi'it indicates that these are not the main rules of the Sabbatical Year, either because the focus of the prohibitions of the Sabbatical Year is the agricultural work itself (Rashi and Tosafot), or because business dealings are only a small part of the larger prohibition against storing the kedushat shevi'it fruit for use in the year after shemitta (Arukh). According to Rabbi Yosei bar Hanina in the baraita, someone who does business with Sabbatical Year fruits will find himself impoverished and be forced to sell his movable property. Should he not realize the severity of his actions, the punishment will continue as long as he does not repent. He will end up selling his agricultural lands, then his own house and real estate; he will be forced to take loans, and when he cannot pay them he will be forced to sell himself as a slave to a fellow Jew – or even to a non-Jew. Rabbi Yosei bar Hanina derives this from his reading of the laws of shemitta as they appear in the Torah, and the continuation of the laws that are discussed there. In Parashat Behar (Vayikra 25:1-13) we learn the rules of shemitta and yovel. This is followed by the laws of buying and selling movable objects (pesuk 14), selling land (beginning with pesuk 15), selling homes (beginning with pesuk 29), borrowing money (from pesuk 35), being sold as a slave to a Jew (from pesuk 39) and finally being sold as a slave to a non-Jew (47 and onwards).
Sukka 39a-b: Buying an Etrog in the Sabbatical Year
15/08/2021 - 7th of Elul, 5781
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During the Sabbatical Year, no agricultural work can be done in Israel and fruits that grow on their own cannot be harvested in a commercial way, rather they are supposed to be left so that anyone can take them for their own use. Once picked they must be treated with care, as they have kedushat shevi'it – the holiness of the Sabbatical Year – they are supposed to be eaten or otherwise used in a normal way; they cannot be discarded in a degrading manner. Although it is forbidden to do business with fruit grown in the shemitta year, in the event that the fruit is sold, its holiness transfers to the money that was received in exchange for it, and now that money (i.e. things purchased with that money) must be treated with kedushat shevi'it. Given these rules, how can an etrog be purchased for the mitzva of arba minim during the Sabbatical year? The Mishna on our daf  has a simple recommendation – when the purchaser comes to buy his lulav, he should ask to receive the etrog as a present rather than pay for it.
The Gemara asks: If, the seller did not want to give him the etrog as a gift, what is the halakha? How should the buyer purchase the etrog? Rav Huna said: He incorporates the cost of the etrog into the price of the lulav. He should purchase the lulav at an inflated price to cover the cost of the etrog as well.
This can be done either by specifically arranging that the price of the lulav is high enough that the seller will be willing to agree to give the etrog as a present (Rashi) or simply that a global price should be agreed on and the intent of the purchaser should be that he is paying only for the lulav (Rambam). While the Mishna is concerned with the situation of the etrog, the Gemara wants to know how a lulav can be purchased during the Sabbatical year. At first the Gemara tries to distinguish between the lulav and etrog by arguing that the rules apply to each of them on different years. The etrog is an unusual fruit in that it is comparable to vegetables in a number of ways – unlike most of the trees native to the Land of Israel, the etrog needs to be watered regularly. Furthermore, unlike most trees that have specific harvest seasons, the etrog remains growing on the tree throughout the year until it is picked. The conclusion of the Gemara (40a) is that the etrog is a fruit, to which the laws of shemitta apply, while the lulav is considered a tree.
Sukka 38a-b: When One Can't Recite the Prayers
14/08/2021 - 6th of Elul, 5781
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What if someone does not know how to say the prayers? How can he fulfill his obligation? This is a particular problem in situations where the prayers are ones that are said infrequently – like Hallel – so people may not have learned them by heart. The Mishna on our daf  suggests that even an eved (a non-Jewish slave), a woman or a child who has not reached Bar Mitzva, people who are not obligated in Hallel, can lead the prayer, so long as the adult repeats Hallel word-for-word. Nevertheless, the Mishna rebukes a person who is illiterate and needs to rely on someone who is not obligated to lead him in prayer. If there is an adult leading the prayer, then the person can respond with the word Halleluya and fulfill his obligation in that way. The Gemara teaches that the tradition was for the congregation to respond to the prayers of the hazzan with a refrain of Halleluya during those paragraphs of Hallel where that was the key word (Tehillim 113-117). In the portion of Hallel where the refrain was different, the congregational response matched that refrain (e.g. Hodu laShem in Tehillim 118). Already during Rava's time the vast majority of people were literate and were able to recite Hallel without assistance, nevertheless the tradition continued, remnants of which are retained in the recitation of Hallel to this day in many synagogues. What if someone just listens to the hazzan without responding? Here the Gemara applies the rule shome'ah ke-oneh – that listening with proper intent is the equivalent of responding. Tosafot point out that it is certainly better to respond with the appropriate refrain than to merely listen intently, nevertheless there are times when a person cannot say the response aloud and at that time listening may be the preferred option. For example, if a person is in the middle of saying the silent amida prayer and the congregation reaches a place where a community response is called for, the person should remain silent and listen. The rishonim compare this to the case where servants of the king are occupied with their royal service and they cannot take a break from it, even to turn their attention to another important assignment for the king.
Sukka 37a-b: Waving the Lulav
13/08/2021 - 5th of Elul, 5781
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Aside from the simple mitzva of picking up the daled minim (four species) on Sukkot, there is also a mitzva of ni'anu'ah - to wave or shake the lulav during prayers.
Rabbi Yohanan said: He moves them to and fro to dedicate them to He Whom the four directions are His. He raises and lowers them to He Whom the heavens and earth are His. In the West, Eretz Yisrael, they taught it as follows. Rabbi Hama bar Ukva said that Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Hanina, said: He moves them to and fro in order to request a halt to harmful winds, storms and tempests that come from all directions; he raises and lowers them in order to halt harmful dews and rains that come from above.
Perhaps the simplest explanation of the na'anu'im is given by the Me'iri, who describes them as a show of joy appropriate for the Sukkot holiday. This idea is developed by Rabbeinu Mano'ah who says that the shaking must be done with strength and vigor to fulfill the passage that commands that a person must praise God with his entire being (Tehillim 35:10), and by the Rosh who explains that it is to show particular love for the mitzva. The explanation that appears in the Jerusalem Talmud is that waving the lulav is an act of defense – an attempt to ward off the prosecuting angel. Moreover, the Mishna instructs this shaking or waving of the lulav at specific points during Hallel – the prayer of thanksgiving. Based on the passage in Tehillim (96:12) that the trees of the forest sing out in praise of God, we are commanded to shake the symbolic trees as we praise God with our recitation of the Hodu prayer (Tehillim 118:1) and the plea Hoshi'a na (Tehillim 118:25). The actual definition of ni'anu'ah is a matter of dispute. The Shulhan Arukh (Orah Hayyim 681:9) rules that it is a thrusting of the lulav back and forth in all directions, which is the tradition kept by the Sefardic communities. Most Ashkenazim follow the opinion of the Rema that the lulav must be shaken, as well.
Sukka 36a-b: Taking a Bite of an Etrog
12/08/2021 - 4th of Elul, 5781
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The Mishna (34b) teaches that an etrog must be whole for it to be used for the mitzva. If even a small part of it was missing then it cannot be used. The Gemara on our daf tells of the unusual case of Rabbi Hanina, who would take a bite out of his etrog and then use it to fulfill the mitzva. The explanation for his behavior is given by the Gemara as distinguishing between the first day of Sukkot, when there is a biblical obligation to take the daled minim (the four species) and other days of the holiday when the requirement is only of Rabbinic origin. When there is no biblical obligation, even an etrog that is haser – where a part is missing – is considered kosher. This distinction helps us understand why Rabbi Hanina was able to fulfill his mitzva even though his etrog had a bite taken from it, but we still are at a loss to understand why Rabbi Hanina chose to do that – and from the Gemara it appears that he did this on a regular basis. This question is raised by the Meiri, who points out that it is odd that one of the Sages would choose to fulfill the mitzva this way on a regular basis, even if it was technically permitted to do so. He explains that Rabbi Hanina certainly said the blessing on a full etrog. Nevertheless, his tradition was to walk around holding a lulav and etrog in his hands throughout the day. In the course of the day he became hungry and took small bites from the etrog. Still, the Gemara feels that we can conclude from this story that such an etrog can be used for the mitzva after the first day. Another issue raised by the commentators is that the daled minim are set aside for the mitzva, which makes it forbidden to use them for other purposes throughout the holiday. The Ritva (among others) suggests that Rabbi Hanina purchased a different etrog for each day of the holiday, so none of the etrogim were "set aside" for use on a particular day, thus once he fulfilled the mitzva for the day he was well within his rights to derive benefit from them.
Sukka 35a-b: The Identity of the Peri Etz Hadar
11/08/2021 - 3rd of Elul, 5781
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As with all of the arba minim – the four species that are taken on the Sukkot holiday, the etrog is hinted at in the pasuk that refers to it as a peri etz hadar – the fruit of a beautiful tree – but is not clearly identified. The Gemara attempts to derive the identity of the fruit from the pasuk itself. This methodology is not limited only to our Gemara - the Jerusalem Talmud argues that it must be a beautiful fruit from a beautiful tree, as opposed to a beautiful tree with ugly fruit (like a carob) or an ugly tree with beautiful fruit (like a pomegranate). Our Gemara also notes that the pasuk emphasizes both the fruit and the tree, and suggests that we are to understand that it is a reference to a tree whose fruit has the same taste as the tree itself. This apparently points specifically to an etrog, where most of the fruit is the peel – whose taste is similar to the tree – and only a very small amount of it is truly fruit. [caption id="attachment_9181" align="alignleft" width="221"]Branch of the pepper tree Branch of the pepper tree[/caption] The Gemara's objection to this suggestion is that other types of fruit fall into this category, as well. Pepper, for example, has the same taste as its tree. The black pepper – piper nigrum – grows on a climbing vine to a height of 5 – 7 meters. Its growth is similar to that of a grape vine, as it spreads out on the ground if it has nowhere to climb. At the edges of the branches there are white sprouts, from which the fruit grows, each one about the size of a pea. When ripe, they turn red. Pepper is native to Indonesia and the southern part of India, but already in Talmudic times it was successfully cultivated in Israel. The Ritva points out that the discussion in the Gemara about how to define the passage commanding us to take a peri etz hadar cannot possibly be searching for the true identification of the fruit. By the time of the Gemara it is obvious that there were already long-standing oral traditions that the fruit that had to be taken was an etrog. Our Gemara is simply an attempt to investigate whether the well known tradition could be shown to have a source in the written Torah, as well.
Sukka 34a-b: The Aravah
10/08/2021 - 2nd of Elul, 5781
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Continuing its discussion of the arbah minim – the four species that are taken up during the holiday – the Mishna (33b) discusses the requirements of the aravah.  Aside from the limitations that we are already familiar with from our study of the lulav and the hadasim (e.g. that a stolen or dried up branch cannot be used), we learn that a tzaftzefa is not kosher for use as an aravah. What is an aravah and what is a tzaftzafa? The baraita lists that an aravah has a reddish stem and a long leaf with smooth edges, while a taftaefa has a whitish stem and a round shaped leaf with serrated edges. Another baraita distinguishes between different types of serrated edges – when they are like a magal (scythe) they are fine; the problem is when they are shaped like a masor (saw). In fact, Abaye identifies the scythe-shaped plant as a hilfa gila, which was apparently well-known to be considered an aravah. [su_row][su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_9167" align="alignleft" width="300"]Willow branch Willow branch[/caption] [/su_column] [su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_9168" align="alignright" width="300"]White willow White willow[/caption] [/su_column] [/su_row]   [su_row][su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_8778" align="alignleft" width="300"]Teeth of a scythe Teeth of a scythe[/caption] [/su_column] [su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_9175" align="alignright" width="300"]Teeth of a saw Teeth of a saw[/caption] [/su_column] [/su_row] These identifications do not make the picture much clearer. The commentaries discuss whether all three of the "rules" must be met in order to declare a plant to be an aravah; from the story of the hilfa gila it is clear that not all of the criteria must be met. Furthermore, the Tosefta and the Yerushalmi appear to have variant readings of the baraita that give a very different picture of the kosher aravah. Thus, even with the lengthy list that the Gemara gives, indicating the ways to distinguish between the kosher aravah and the non-kosher tzaftzafa, it is still difficult to ascertain which types of trees are referred to. It appears that both the aravah and the tzaftzafa are types of willow trees of the salix family, short trees that grow very quickly. Even within the two types there are many varieties, including trees that are grafted and contain both types within them. The aravah likely can be identified as salix acmophylla boiss, while the tzaftzafa, which, according to the Gemara, has leaves that are of a different shape than the aravah, may very well be the "white willow."
Sukka 33a-b: The Berries of the Myrtle
09/08/2021 - 1st of Elul, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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Myrtle branch with few leaves and many berriesAnother one of the rules of the hadas presented in the Mishna (32a) is that if there are more berries than leaves, the hadas cannot be used. If the berries are removed, however, then the hadas is considered kosher for use.
R Hisda said: This statement was stated by our great Rabbi, Rav, and may the Omnipresent come to his assistance. The Sages taught this halakha only if the berries were concentrated in one place. However, if they were distributed in two or three places throughout the branch, it is fit. Rava said to Rav Hisda: If the berries are distributed in two or three places, the myrtle branch is speckled with different colors in different places. It lacks beauty and is certainly unfit.
Rava explains that Rav must have been making a different point: that if the berries were green they would not be a problem; it is only if they are black (or red, according to Rav Papa) that the hadas cannot be used. At no point does the Gemara explain why the berries create a problem for the hadas. The implication of the Gemara (as interpreted by Rashi) is that the problem is one of hadar – that the four species must be particularly beautiful, and the contrasting color of the berries is considered a blemish, marring the hadar of the branches. The Jerusalem Talmud suggests two possible problems with the berries. One suggestion is that the berries – with their distinct color – appear to be foreign to the branch; another possibility is that the commandment in the Torah is to perform the mitzva with the branch (anaf) – not with the fruit (peri). Once the berries have ripened – as is indicted by the change in color – they are considered fruit, which cannot be used for performance of the mitzva.
Sukka 32a-b: The Leaves of the Myrtle
08/08/2021 - 30th of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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Many of the halakhot of hadasim – the myrtle branches, referred to as anaf etz avot in Vayikra 23:40 – parallel those of the lulav. They cannot be stolen or dried up, etc. The Gemara derives the identification of the hadas as a myrtle based on its interpretation of the aforementioned passage in Vayikra, reading it to mean that the leaves must cover the branches. In so doing, the Gemara rejects a number of other possible identifications, like olive branches, dulva and hirduf. [caption id="attachment_9126" align="alignleft" width="226"]Oriental plane tree (dulva) Oriental plane tree (dulva)[/caption] The dulva – platanus orientalis – is a tall, non-fruit-bearing tree (it grows to 50 meters high) of the Platanaceae family that is usually grown as an ornamental tree. It is rejected in this case because its leaves do not totally cover its branches. The hirduf – nerium oleander – is an evergreen shrub that grows to a height of four meters. Its yellowish-greenish leaves are thick and leathery with pink flowers. [caption id="attachment_9129" align="alignright" width="223"]Oleander (hirduf) Oleander (hirduf)[/caption] Although it certainly meets the requirement to have leaves that cover the branches, it is rejected because of its toxicity. Both Abaye and Rava quote pesukim – Abaye from Mishlei (3:17) that the ways of the Torah are pleasant; Rava from Zekharya (8:19) that the Torah loves truth and peace – that are understood to indicate that a poisonous plant could not be the one chosen to perform a mitzva.
A Sage taught in the Tosefta: A dense-leaved branch is fit, and one that is not dense-leaved is unfit, even though it is a myrtle branch. The Gemara asks: What are the circumstances of "dense-leaved tree"? Rav Yehuda said: And it is a configuration where three leaves emerge from each base. Rav Kahana said: Even two leaves emerging from one base and one leaf that covers the other two emerging from a lower base is called thick. Rav Aha, son of Rava, would purposely seek a myrtle branch configured with two leaves emerging from one base and one emerging from a lower base, since this statement emerged from the mouth of Rav Kahana. Mar bar Ameimar said to Rav Ashi: My father called a myrtle branch with that configuration a wild myrtle branch.
[su_row][su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_9137" align="alignleft" width="233"]Three-fold myrtle branch Three-fold myrtle branch[/caption] [/su_column] [su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_9138" align="alignright" width="234"]Wild myrtle branch Wild myrtle branch[/caption] [/su_column] [/su_row] While the Rema permits the use of a hadas where there are two leaves on each level (Shulhan Arukh Orah Hayyim 446:3), the majority of the poskim reject that position and rule that three leaves need to be growing on each level.
Sukka 31a-b: Using a Stolen Sukka
07/08/2021 - 29th of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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This perek introduced us to the idea that a stolen lulav cannot be used to perform a mitzva – how about a stolen sukka? Surprisingly, in this case, the Hakhamim permit the use of a sukka that was built on stolen property. Rabbi Eliezer, who forbids its use, does so as much because of the sin involved as because of his view that every person must live in his own sukka and cannot borrow (or steal) the sukka of his friend. Why is the rule of mitzva ha-ba'ah ba-aveirah – a commandment that is being fulfilled by means of a sinful act – not applied in this case? The Ritva raises this question and suggests that the concept of mitzva ha-ba'ah ba-aveirah applies only to commandments that are acts of prayer and entreaty; this would be true of the lulav, which is taken as part of the prayer service, but not the sukka. This explanation is rejected by the majority of the commentaries. The Tosafot Ri"d suggests that the Gemara is discussing a case where a significant change was made to the sukka itself, thus removing it from the possession of the original owner, and in turn taking away its halakhic status as “stolen.” It is also possible that there are some amora'im who do not accept the restrictions of mitzva ha-ba'ah ba-aveirah. Rabbi Moshe ibn Habib, in his Kappot Temarim, suggests that the definition of a sukka is its skhakh - roofing; thus the only problem of mitzva ha-ba'ah ba-aveirah would be when the skhakh is stolen, and our Gemara is discussing a case when it is the land on which the sukka is standing that is stolen. According to the continuation of the Gemara, even the case of a stolen skhakh may not be an impediment for using the sukka, because of takkanat marish. According to the Torah, if a person has a stolen article in his possession, it is not enough for him to pay its value to the owner – he must return the object itself. The Sages ruled that in the event that forcing the thief to return the object may discourage him from repenting (e.g. where a stolen beam could only be returned if the thief would have to destroy his house in order to extract the beam), he can return its value rather than the object itself. Thus, if wood was stolen and used as the skhakh of a sukka, it is likely that the thief would only have to return the value of the skhakh and not the skhakh itself. It goes without saying that even if a sukka gezulah (stolen) is technically kosher, one should not use someone else's sukka without his permission - see the Rema in the Shulhan Aruk, Orah Hayyim (637:3).
Sukka 30a-b: A Mitzva Fulfilled By Means of a Transgression
06/08/2021 - 28rd of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The third perek, Lulav ha-Gazul, which began on yesterday's daf (29b), focuses on the mitzva of taking the four species (see Vayikra 23:40). Based on the explanation of this commandment in the Torah, many details remain unclear:
  • To what plants is the Torah referring - it offers more in the way of a description than a specific tree or shrub?
  • Are there requirements about the condition of the plants that are to be used for this mitzva?
  • Do all of the plants need to be taken together?
  • Is the commandment a mitzva on all Jews, or is it connected to the Temple service?
  • Does the mitzva apply on just the first day of Sukkot, or on every day of the holiday?
These very issues are the ones dealt with in our perek. The title of the perekLulav ha-Gazul – refers to the first rule in the Mishna, which prohibits using a stolen lulav to fulfill the mitzva. Rabbi Yohanan quotes Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai as explaining the basis for this prohibition as being a mitzva ha-ba'ah ba-aveirah – a commandment that is fulfilled by means of a sinful act. The source for this concept is a passage in Tanakh (Malakhi 1:13) in which the prophet pointedly states that God rejects the offering of a stolen sacrifice, just as He rejects offerings that are physically blemished. Another pasuk quoted in this context refers to God's love of justice and His hatred of a stolen olah offering (see Yeshayahu 61:8). The Ri"af points out that the pasuk chooses to emphasize an olah because it is a sacrifice that it totally burned up for God. While we can well understand that sacrifices where part of the korban is given to its owner cannot come from stolen property, we may have thought that if it all is given to God, there is less of a problem since the entire universe belongs to Him. Thus it is important to emphasize God's total rejection of such a suggestion. The commentaries discuss the concept of mitzva ha-ba'ah ba-aveirah at great length. The general conclusion is that not every sinful act connected to a commandment negates the mitzva. When the aveira (transgression) is what allows the mitzva to be performed – as in our case where the lulav would not have been available for use had it not been stolen – then it cannot be used for performance of a mitzva.
Sukka 29a-b: Make Your Sukka Your Home
05/08/2021 - 27rd of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Mishna (28b) taught the general principle that during the week of Sukkot a person should make his house his temporary dwelling (ara'i) and his sukka his permanent dwelling (keva). Thus, a person's beautiful utensils should be brought into the sukka and his normal eating, drinking and daily activities should take place there. Nevertheless, not everything is appropriate in the sukka. Rava rules that the place for drinking utensils is in the sukka, but eating utensils should remain in the house. Similarly, a lamp can only be left in a large sukka; if the sukka is small then the candle should remain in the house. The Rosh and the Me'iri explain that the problem with eating utensils is that when they become dirty they are inappropriate for the sukka, so they must be removed immediately. Tosafot and the Ritva argue that the reference is not to plates as much as it is to pots and pans, whose place is in the kitchen and not on the table. Others suggest that the difference between eating utensils and drinking utensils is that there are set times for meals, so those are the only times that eating utensils belong in the sukka. Drinking takes place all of the time, so cups and glasses always belong in the sukka. With regard to the lamp, the most obvious explanation of the Gemara is that in a small sukka we are afraid that a fire might break out, which is the approach suggested by Tosafot and the Rosh. Alternatively, as explained by the Ritva and the Mei'ri, the need to stay a distance away from the fire effectively takes away from the size of the sukka, so it cannot be placed in a sukka which is the minimum size to begin with. Rashi offers an alternative approach – that we are talking about a clay candle holder, and that even if the candle is no longer burning, it should not be left in a sukka, since it is considered ugly and disgusting – like the dirty dishes that must immediately be removed.
Sukka 28a-b: The Students of Hillel
04/08/2021 - 26rd of Av, 5781
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In the context of discussing Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus and his teacher, Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai, the Gemara mentions that Hillel HaZaken had eighty students – thirty who are described as deserving of divine revelation like Moshe Rabbeinu, thirty who merit the cessation of heavenly orbits as did Yehoshua bin Nun, and twenty intermediate students. The greatest of his students was Yonatan ben Uzziel; the youngest of them was Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai. In what fields was the "youngest of the students" expert? It was said of Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai that his studies included the written Torah, the Mishna, the Gemara, the Halakhot, and Aggadot; the subtle points of the Torah and the minutiae of the Scribes; the inferences from minor to major and analogies; astronomy and geometry (the simple meaning of the word in Greek is land measurements, but it was commonly used to mean engineering or mathematics in general); the language of the ministering angels; the language of the demons, the whisper of the palms, washer's proverbs and fox fables, and matters great and small. The report on Yonatan ben Uzziel was that when he would sit and study Torah, a bird that flew above his head would immediately burn up. We have surprisingly little biographical information about Yonatan ben Uzziel. His life's work, for which he is best known and remembered, is his translation of the books of Nakh (nevi'im) into Aramaic. It is not clear whether the translation that we have today is actually the one that he wrote, or whether it is based on his work. In any case, it is not simply a translation, but a free interpretation, which includes many details and elucidations. Although a translation into Greek already existed at the time, his work was groundbreaking in that it included interpretations beyond the simple meaning of the words and was done according to – and with the approval of – the Sages of his generation. We find that Yonatan ben Uziel was so well regarded during his lifetime, that even Shammai HaZaken, who served as the Av Bet Din, sought him out to discuss issues of halakha with him.
Sukka 27a-b: Eating in the Sukka
03/08/2021 - 25rd of Av, 5781
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Mishna: Rabbi Eliezer says: A person is obligated to eat fourteen meals in the sukka over the course of the seven days of the festival of Sukkot, one during the day each day and one at night each night. And the Rabbis say: There is no quota for the number of meals, and one may choose whether or not to eat any of the meals except for the meal on the evening of the first Festival day of Sukkot, which one is required to eat in the sukka.
Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus was also known as Rabbi Eliezer ha-Gadol. He lived during the time of the destruction of the Second Temple and in the period following the destruction. Although Rabbi Eliezer came from a wealthy family that could trace its roots back to Moshe Rabbeinu, he did not begin to study Torah until he was 20 years old, when he traveled to Jerusalem to study with Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai. Rabbi Eliezer so impressed his teacher that Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai considered him to be the best of all his students and, indeed, the equal of all the Sages. His knowledge and leadership abilities were already recognized before the destruction of the Temple, and he is one of the Sages who established the great yeshiva in Yavne together with Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai after the destruction. We find recorded in Pirkei Avot that Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai described Rabbi Eliezer as a "well plastered cistern that never loses a drop of water," whose teachings were based almost entirely on traditions that he received from his teachers. Nevertheless, we find that, in contrast to his teachers and peers, Rabbi Eliezer was inclined to follow the opinions of Beit Shammai. Rabbi Akiva was his main student, although virtually all of the Sages of that generation learned from him. His own son, Hyrcanus, was accepted as one of the leading Sages of his generation.
Sukka 26a-b: Eating Outside the Sukka
02/08/2021 - 24rd of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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As we learned, the last Mishna (25a) permitted eating a non-formal meal outside the sukka. The Mishna on our daf records that when asked to taste the food that was being cooked on Sukkot, Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai insisted that it be brought into the sukka, as did Rabban Gamliel when he was brought two dates and a bucket of water.
In contrast, the Mishna relates: And when they gave Rabbi Tzadok less than an egg-bulk of food, he took the food in a cloth for cleanliness; he did not wash his hands because in his opinion, one is not required to wash his hands before eating less than an egg-bulk. And he ate it outside the sukka and did not recite a blessing after eating it. He holds that one is not required to recite a blessing after eating less than an egg-bulk, as it is not satisfying, and it is written: "And you shall eat and be satisfied and bless the Lord your God" (Devarim 8:10).
The Gemara objects that it seems odd to find that the Mishna would bring stories of Sages who insisted on eating even small amounts of food in the sukka immediately after presenting the rule that such foods can be eaten outside of the sukka. The Gemara responds that the Mishna is teaching that such behavior is an accepted stringency, and that such behavior is not considered yuhara – haughtiness. Rabbi Aryeh Leib Yellin in his Yefe Einayim explains that there is no yuhara in this case because it is not evident to people why he is not eating a small amount outside – perhaps he is simply not hungry! In any case, there are people who even during the year will eat and drink only in their own homes, so there is no clear indication that they have accepted this stringency upon them. The Me'iri suggests that the reason these stories were placed together in the Mishna was to emphasize that stringency may be lauded, but leniency is also acceptable, as long as it is within the framework of what halakha accepts, since we see that among the Sages of the Mishna both positions were considered normative. Rabbi Tzadok's behavior is subject to a difference of opinion between Rashi who says that he took the food in a napkin because of his fastidiousness, while Tosafot explain that his religious devotion was such that he treated all food as though it were teruma, so he refrained from touching food lest it become ritually defiled. In any case, it is clear that the baraita tells Rabbi Tzadok's story in order to emphasize that just as there were Sages who were stringent upon themselves, there were also those who made a point of emphasizing that it was appropriate to stick to the letter of the law without stringencies. In this story, Rabbi Tzadok was lenient with regard to sukka, ritual hand washing and the blessing after food.
Sukka 25a-b: One Mitzva Exempting You From Another
01/08/2021 - 23rd of Av, 5781
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The Mishna on today's daf  teaches about situations where people can forgo the mitzva of sukka. According to the Mishna, sheluhei mitzva – people occupied with performance of a mitzva – are not obligated in the commandment of sukka. Also included on this list are people who are ill, together with their caretakers. Finally, the Mishna teaches that only a formal meal needs to be eaten in the sukka; a snack can be eaten outside of the sukka. The idea that ha-osek be-mitzva patur min ha-mitzva – that someone engaged in a mitzva is free from his obligations in other commandments – is derived from a passage in keri'at shema. We read in shema that we are obligated to discuss the words of shema - be-shivtikha be-veitekha u-velekhtekha va-derekh – when you are sitting in your home and when you are walking on your way. The emphasis on "your home" and "your way" teaches that when you are occupied in matters that are not your own choice, that is to say, matters that you are obligated to be involved with – i.e. mitzvot – then you are not obligated in shema, nor, for that matter, are you obligated in other mitzvot. One point that is not clear, and is the subject of debate among the poskim, is whether we apply the rule of ha-osek be-mitzva patur min ha-mitzva only in a case where performing the additional mitzva will adversely affect fulfillment of the first mitzva (for example, if spending time looking for a sukka will limit the amount of time the travelers will be able to devote to their travel, making fulfillment of the mitzva take a longer time). Others argue that involvement in a mitzva simply creates a situation whereby a new obligation cannot be imposed on the person who is already occupied with a mitzva. According to this view, even if the second mitzva can be done with no additional strain or effort, the person is still not obligated to do it.
Sukka 24a-b: Anticipating a Change in the Status Quo
31/07/2021 - 22th of Av, 5781
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As we learned on yesterday's daf, Rabbi Meir forbids the use of a live animal as one of the walls of a sukka, while Rabbi Yehuda permits it. Abaye explained Rabbi Meir's position as reflecting a concern lest the animal die, resulting in a wall that is no longer high enough for the minimum necessary for a kosher sukka. The Gemara perceives Abaye's explanation as representing a larger issue. When we face a given situation, do we anticipate that it will remain static or do we need to be concerned that it may change? Take, for example, the case of a married couple, when the husband is a kohen and the wife – who is not from a family of kohanim – eats teruma thanks to her status as the wife of a kohen. If the husband sets out on an overseas journey, can she continue to eat teruma, or does she need to be concerned that he has died on his journey and she no longer has the right to do so? The Gemara (23b) finds two tanna'itic statements regarding this very question, which seem to contradict one another. Abaye argues that this is exactly the argument between Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yehuda. According to the former, she cannot eat teruma when her husband is traveling; according to the latter, she can assume he is still alive and can continue eating teruma based on their relationship. Yet the Gemara on our daf points to a Mishna where Rabbi Yehuda does seem to be concerned that the status quo will change. On Yom Kippur, it is essential that the Kohen Gadol be married. This is derived from the passage (Vayikra 16:6) that teaches how the Kohen Gadol entering the Holy of Holies as part of the Yom Kippur service must seek atonement "for himself and for his household." The term "his household" is understood by the Gemara to mean his wife. Thus, the Kohen Gadol must be married. According to the Mishna in Massekhet Yoma (2a) Rabbi Yehuda requires the Kohen Gadol to marry a second wife (which is Biblically permitted. Contemporary Jewish tradition that forbids bigamy is a relatively late institution) just in case his first wife dies – which seems to indicate that Rabbi Yehuda agrees that we cannot assume that the status quo will remain intact. In answer to this question, the Gemara quotes Rav Huna the son of Rabbi Yehoshua who explains that this is a unique case because of the heightened concern that we have for the process of atonement that takes place on Yom Kippur.
Sukka 23a-b: A Sukka on a Camel
30/07/2021 - 21th of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna (22b) teaches that a sukka can be built on the back of a camel, although such a sukka cannot be used on Shabbat or Yom Tov (it can be used on the intermediate days of the holiday) due to Rabbinic restrictions on the use of animals on those days. [caption id="attachment_8996" align="alignright" width="300"]Sukka built on a camel Sukka built on a camel[/caption] The Gemara on our daf identifies this opinion as being authored by Rabbi Meir, who rules that a sukka can be built on an animal. Nevertheless, Rabbi Meir rules that an animal cannot be used as one of the walls of a sukka. The amora'im disagree as to the source of this prohibition – Abaye claims that it stems from a fear that the animal will die, and in falling over it will no longer be of the proper height needed for a sukka wall (the Gemara will later discuss whether this concern exists if the animal is an elephant, which has considerable height even when lying on its side); Rabbi Zeira argues that the concern is that the animal may run away, leaving the sukka without a wall. These concerns are what make Rabbi Meir wary about using a living animal for a number of other uses, as well. Aside from the case of a sukka wall, Rabbi Meir also restricts the use of a live animal:
  • as a symbolic lehi (a side post placed at the entrance to an alleyway to render it permitted to carry in the alleyway on Shabbat)
  • as one of the corners in pasei beira'ot that permit pilgrims heading towards Jerusalem to draw water from a well in a public domain
  • as a gollel to a grave.
[su_row][su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_8871" align="alignnone" width="300"]Upright boards surrounding wells--pasei bira'ot Upright boards surrounding wells--pasei bira'ot[/caption] [/su_column] [su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_8998" align="alignnone" width="300"]di gollel Covering for a grave--gollel[/caption] [/su_column] [/su_row] The commentaries disagree about how to define a gollel. Rashi explains that it is the cover to a casket. Tosafot point out that it is difficult to imagine a live animal being used for that purpose. They suggest that it is a rounded stone that was used to close up a burial cave (several such stones have been found near ancient burial caves in Israel). During the times of the Mishna, common burial practice was to place the dead body in a temporary grave where it would decompose. At a later date, the bones would be removed and transferred to a family burial cave. The round shape of the gollel stone allowed it to be rolled, closing the cave, yet easily opened when necessary.
Sukka 22a-b: A Sukka Meduvlelet
29/07/2021 - 20th of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Our daf opens with a new Mishna, which teaches one of the most basic rules of a sukka – that its shade must be greater than the sunlight in the sukka. In that context we are taught that a sukka meduvlelet is kosher. What is a sukka meduvlelet?
  • According to Rav it is an "impoverished" sukkaaniyah – i.e. one whose skhakh - roofing - is sparse.
  • According to Shmuel it is a "disordered" sukkamebulbelet – i.e. one with some pieces of skhakh pointing upward and others downwards.
Several of the commentaries feel a need to explain Rav's position. If the skhakh is not very thick, but there is more shadow than sunlight, then the sukka is kosher. Why does a separate clause need to be added to the Mishna to teach this obvious law?
  • The Ritva explains that this teaches that we do not need to be concerned lest for some reason some skhakh may be removed and there will not be enough shade.
  • The Sefat Emet suggests that an "impoverished" sukka is one that is just the minimum size. We may have thought that such a sukka would at least need to have thick skhakh to compensate for its small size. According to Rav, the Mishna teaches that it is unnecessary.
In explaining the case as presented by Shmuel, most commentaries follow Rashi's lead that because of the height differential of the different pieces of skhakh in the "disordered" sukka there is actually more sunlight than shadow (the angle of the sun finds the openings in the skhakh and makes its way into the sukka). This, in fact, is the explanation presented by the Jerusalem Talmud. Some commentaries (the Me'iri, for example) suggest that even according to Shmuel it is essential that there be more shadow than sun in the sukka, and what is unique about Shmuel's teaching is that we do not perceive this case as a sukka with two sets of skhakh, a situation that would present halakhic problems regarding the kashrut of such a sukka.
Sukka 21a-b: A Sukka Resting on the Legs of a Bed
28/07/2021 - 19th of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The second Mishna in the perek discusses a case of someone who built his sukka by resting it on the legs of a bed – al karei ha-mitah. The Tanna Kamma rules that the sukka is fit for use; Rabbi Yehuda rules that if the sukka cannot stand on its own it is disqualified. [caption id="attachment_8986" align="alignright" width="300"]Sukka resting on a bed Sukka resting on a bed[/caption] Several explanations are given that attempt to clarify the case of building a sukka al karei ha-mitah. Most commentaries appear to accept the definition offered by the Talmud Yerushalmi that the bed is part of the sukka – in effect, the floor of the sukka. According to the Tosafot Ri"d, we are talking about a case where the bed is so large that it is the size of a kosher sukka, and the skhakh - roofing - is being placed on the four poles that extend up from the head and foot of the bed. A similar explanation has the bed acting as support for the sukka on one side. The Ra'avad disagrees, and offers an alternative understanding of the case in the Mishna. He argues that the bed is not part of the structure of the sukka at all; the supports for the roofing are merely resting on the bed. The concern is that if the bed falls down or is removed, without the support offered by the bed the entire sukka may collapse. The Ramban offers another approach, suggesting that we are talking about a case where the legs of the bed are ten tefahim high (i.e. the minimum height of a kosher sukka), and that the bed is turned over so that its legs are used to hold the skhakh The concern in this case is that the bed might be removed by someone who wants to use it for its actual purpose. As far as Rabbi Yehuda's position is concerned - that if the sukka cannot stand on its own it is disqualified – the Rosh sees this comment as a clarification, rather than a disagreement with the position of the Tanna Kamma. Other commentaries disagree, and according to them it is not clear whether halakha follows the opinion of the Tanna Kamma or that of Rabbi Yehuda.
Sukka 20a-b: Sleeping Under the Bed
27/07/2021 - 18th of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The second perek of Massekhet Sukka focuses on defining the commandment that one must "sit" in the sukka for seven days (Vayikra 23:42). The perek deals with such questions as :
  • Is one obligated to sit in the sukka during both day and night?
  • Must one remain throughout the day, or only when performing specific activities?
  • Are women and children obligated to sit in the sukka, too?
  • Are there circumstances in which an individual may be freed of this obligation?
Another type of question dealt with in this perek involves clarifying whether a person – for reasons of comfort, for example – can cover the sukka or cover himself while sitting in the sukka. The first Mishna deals with this question when it teaches that a person cannot sleep under a bed in the sukka, a ruling disputed by Rabbi Yehuda, who testifies that it was common practice to do so. Furthermore, Rabbi Yehuda argues, the Sages never objected to such behavior.
Rabbi Shimon said, contrary to the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda: There was an incident involving Tavi, the Canaanite slave of Rabban Gamliel who was sleeping beneath the bed, and Rabbi Gamliel lightheartedly said to the Elders: Did you see my slave Tavi, who is a Torah scholar and knows that slaves are exempt from the mitzva of sukka? Since it is a positive, time-bound mitzva, Canaanite slaves, whose status with regard to this halakhic category is like that of women, are exempt from the obligation to fulfill the mitzva of sukka. Therefore, he sleeps under the bed. Rabbi Shimon continued: And by the way, as Rabban Gamliel was not issuing a halakhic ruling, we learned that one who sleeps beneath the bed did not fulfill his obligation.
Tavi is a character who appears throughout the Gemara, identified as the slave belonging to Rabban Gamliel of Yavne. In all of these stories he is presented as someone who was well-known for his personal piety and learning. Not only Rabban Gamliel, but other sages sang his praises. Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya, for example, was known to say that based on Tavi’s Torah knowledge it would have been appropriate for Tavi to be reclining and for Rabbi Elazar to be serving him. Rabban Gamliel tried on several occasions to find a way to set him free, but was stymied in his efforts because of the prohibition to set Canaanite slaves free. Nevertheless, when Tavi passed away, Rabban Gamliel accepted consolation as if he was a family member, explaining that Tavi was different than other slaves – he was a good and honest man.
Sukka 19a-b: A Sukka Without a Roof
26/07/2021 - 17th of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Can a sukka be made without any roof at all? This is the question debated in the Mishna on our daf. According to the Mishna, the Hakhamim allow a sukka that is built like a tzrif - a circular hut, or one that is built leaning against a wall. Rabbi Eliezer rules that such sukkot are no good because they have no roof. [su_row][su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_8977" align="alignleft" width="198"]Circular hut or Teepee Circular hut or Teepee[/caption] [/su_column] [su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_8978" align="alignright" width="300"]Sukka leaning against a wall Sukka leaning against a wall[/caption] [/su_column] [/su_row] The Gemara explains the position of the Hakhamim as stemming from their belief that the slanted wall of a tent is considered to be a roof - that is to say that a separate, clearly delineated roof is not necessary.
It is related: Abaye found Rav Yosef, his teacher, who was sleeping inside a netted bridal canopy [kilat hatanim], whose netting inclines down, inside a sukka. Ostensibly, Rav Yosef did not fulfill his obligation, as he slept in the tent formed by the canopy and not directly in the sukka. Abaye said to him: In accordance with whose opinion do you hold, that you do not consider this netting a tent? Is it in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer, who maintains that a structure without a distinct roof does not have the legal status of a tent, and therefore the netting does not constitute a barrier between the roofing of the sukka and the person sleeping below? ...Rav Yosef said to him: In the baraita, the opposite is taught. Rabbi Eliezer deems it fit and the Rabbis deem it unfit.
To Abaye's challenge that the Mishna should be given more credence than a baraita, Rav Yosef answers that our Mishna is yehida'a - a version accepted only by one redactor. When redacting the Mishna, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi collected and edited the oral traditions that were available to them and established a single, reliable formulation that we use as a basic text to this day. Generally speaking, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi included in the Mishna his own rulings, which he indicated by stating one opinion without attribution or as the opinion of the Sages generally - hakhamim omerim. R. Moshe Bezalel Luria explains in his Emek Sukkot that, regarding our Mishna, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi received an oral tradition from Rabbi Natan and chose to insert it into his edited mishnayot, even though he did not agree with its conclusion. Rav Yosef was aware of this, and chose, therefore, to follow the opinion that he knew to be Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi's as preserved in the baraita. In fact, the Shulhan Aruk (Orah Hayyim 631:10) rules this way, as well.