Talmud

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

Shabbat 152a-b: The Challenges of Aging
05/08/2020 - 15th of Av, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In a lengthy aggadic passage on today’s daf the Gemara addresses old age:
Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to Rabbi Shimon ben Halafta: For what reason did we not greet you during the Festival the way that my fathers greeted your fathers? This was a polite way of asking Rabbi Shimon ben Ĥalafta why he had not come to visit Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi. He said to him: Because I have grown old, and the rocks on the road have become tall, and destinations that are near have become far away, and my two feet have been made into three with the addition of a cane, and that which brings peace to the house, namely, the sexual drive which motivates a couple to make peace, is no more.
The Gemara describes examples of the weakness and illness that accompany old age. The protrusion of the hip bone is particularly noticeable when an elderly person suffers from weight loss as a result of the weakness of old age, known as senile marasmus. The metaphors used by Rabbi Shimon ben Ĥalafta have been interpreted in a variety of different ways. According to the midrash in Vayikra Rabba“destinations that are near have become far away” means that the ears that could once hear well, can now only hear with difficulty and from close by. The Anaf Yosef interprets “that which brings peace to the house” as a phrase that is referring to digestion, which makes peace within one’s body. If one cannot properly digest his food, he suffers significant discomfort and a lack of internal peace. Regarding how aging affects one’s cognitive abilities, the Gemara distinguishes between people who are constantly active in their thinking and those who are not:
It was taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yishmael, son of Rabbi Yosei, says: As Torah scholars grow older, wisdom is increased in them, as it is stated: “With aged men is wisdom; and length of days brings understanding” (Iyyov 12:12). And as ignoramuses grow older, foolishness is increased in them, as it is stated: “He removes the speech of men of trust and takes away the understanding of the aged” (Iyyov 12:20).
Shabbat 151a-b: Benefitting From the Activities of a Non-Jew on Shabbat
04/08/2020 - 14th of Av, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In Talmudic times, it was customary for Jews and gentiles to play musical instruments during a funeral procession to intensify the feeling of mourning. It is apparent from the discussion in the Gemara that flutes were an essential component in preparing to bury the dead in an honorable fashion. The Mishna teaches:
One may wait for nightfall at the Shabbat boundary to attend to the needs of a bride and the needs of a corpse, such as to bring him a coffin and shrouds. If a gentile brought flutes on Shabbat in order to play music during the eulogy and funeral procession, a Jew may not eulogize with them as accompaniment, unless they were brought from a nearby location within the Shabbat boundary and transporting them did not include any violation of halakha.
The prohibition of amira le-akum – asking a non-Jew to perform forbidden Shabbat activities – is a complicated question. According to the Mekhilta there may be a Biblical prohibition involved, based on the passage in Sefer Shemot (12:16) that teaches that “no manner of work should be done in them” i.e., even if performed by a non-Jew. Nevertheless, the accepted ruling is that the prohibition is only of Rabbinic origin, an ordinance established in order to limit the possibility that a Jew will mistakenly perform a forbidden activity himself. There are two separate issues that need to be dealt with in such cases: 1. Requesting that the non-Jew perform the forbidden action, and 2. Benefitting from a forbidden action that was performed by the non-Jew, even if no request is made. In order to avoid these issues, the ruling in the case of our Mishna is that if a gentile brought flutes or anything else to be used for a Jewish burial on Shabbat, one must wait the amount of time that it takes to bring these objects from a nearby location before using them after Shabbat. If the location from which the objects were brought is known, one must wait the amount of time it takes to bring them from that specific place (Rambam Sefer Zemanim, Hilkhot Shabbat 6:5; Shulhan Aruk, Orah Ĥayyim 325:15).
Shabbat 150a-b: Sensitivity to Speech on Shabbat
03/08/2020 - 13th of Av, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Quoting a passage in Sefer Yeshayahu (58:13): “Nor pursuing your business, nor speaking of it” the Gemara explains that one must be careful about the topics of his conversation on Shabbat. At the same time the Gemara explains that although speaking about business on Shabbat is generally prohibited, it is permitted in certain cases because the verse is understood as forbidding “your business,” but the business of Heaven, that is, matters which have religious significance, one is permitted to speak of. What falls under the category of “the business of Heaven”? The Gemara explains:
Rav Hisda and Rav Hamnuna both said: It is permitted to make calculations pertaining to a mitzva on Shabbat, and Rabbi Elazar said that this means that one may apportion charity for the poor on Shabbat. And Rabbi Ya’akov bar Idi said that Rabbi Yohanan said: One may attend to activities necessary for saving a life or for communal needs on Shabbat, and one may go to a synagogue to attend to communal affairs on Shabbat. And Rabbi Shmuel bar Nahmani said that Rabbi Yohanan said: One may go to theaters [tarteiot], and circus performances [kirkesaot], and courthouses [basilkaot] to attend to communal affairs on Shabbat.
What sort of communal affairs took place in these settings? Permission to enter theaters and circuses on Shabbat was not limited to public gatherings at which important decisions were made relating to the city, but also applied to entrance during performances. The entertainment that took place in the theaters and circuses of Talmudic times were not identical to today’s activities. The source of the word kirkesaot, for example, is from the Latin circus, meaning an arena where fights between animals or between animals and humans were staged for the public. At times, Jews were brought out before the audience either as a form of public disgrace or to participate in matches with gladiators or with animals. Oftentimes, it was possible for the crowd to save the lives of the fighters, and for this reason attending these events was considered a matter of saving Jewish lives and protecting the community.
Shabbat 149a-b: Gambling at the Dining Room Table
02/08/2020 - 12th of Av, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara on today’s daf restates the Mishna at the end of yesterday’s daf as teaching:
A person may draw lots with his children and his family members at the table, and he may even do so with a large portion against a small portion. What is the reason for this? It is in accordance with the ruling that Rav Yehuda said that Rav said.
Rav Yehuda quoted Rav as saying that since all of the money really belongs to the head of the household, there is no problem using money as an educational device, and even lending money with interest is permitted within the family. The Gemara continues:
Although with one’s children and family members, yes, this is permitted, with others it is not. What is the reason for this? It is in accordance with the ruling that Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said: Raffling a large portion against a small portion is prohibited to do for other people, even on a weekday. What is the reason? Due to the prohibition against gambling with dice, which is prohibited by rabbinic law as a form of theft.
Dice players, who are professional gamblers, are among the people that the Sages disqualified as witnesses. The Sages disagreed with regard to the rationale for this halakha, with the Gemara in Massekhet Sanhedrin (daf 25) offering two explanations for this. Rami bar Hama taught that the problem with a dice player is one of asmakhta - when gambling, neither side thinks that he will lose which will lead to a situation where the winner takes the loser’s money against his will. Therefore, one who takes money in this fashion is considered a robber by rabbinic decree. Tosafot offer a somewhat similar explanation. Rav Sheshet, on the other hand, taught that the problem with a dice player is that he is eino osek be-yishuvo shel olam - that someone who makes his living by gambling is not involved in positive community activities. Thus, even according to those who say that money won through gambling is not considered stolen, gambling is nonetheless considered despicable behavior.
Shabbat 148a-b: Prohibiting Commercial Activity on Shabbat
01/08/2020 - 11th of Av, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The twenty-third perek of Massekhet Shabbat begins on today’s daf ,and its focus is the rabbinic decree against commercial activity on Shabbat. The prohibition of commercial activity on Shabbat is one of the earliest known decrees enacted by the Sages to protect Torah law. This decree is generally explained as a protective measure to prevent writing on Shabbat, as commercial activity generally requires writing in order to record and approve legally binding transactions. Although Torah law does not prohibit commercial activity itself on Shabbat, commercial transactions often entail numerous activities that are prohibited on Shabbat, such as carrying objects from one domain to another, fixing utensils or completing their production, and handling objects that may not be handled on Shabbat. As the decree prohibiting commercial activity was already widely known and accepted in talmudic times, this chapter examines the scope of the prohibition and seeks to determine precisely which activities fall under the decree. In addition to prohibiting direct and explicitly formulated business transactions, the decree also encompasses related activities, such as hiring workers and granting or receiving a loan. However, since the source of this prohibition is rabbinic, there are instances where there is room for leniency, such as when the commercial activity is for the sake of a mitzva or when there is no concern for possible violation of Shabbat. An example appears in the first Mishna of the perek:
One may borrow jugs of wine and jugs of oil from another on Shabbat, as long as one does not say the following to him: Loan me. And similarly, a woman may borrow from another loaves of bread on Shabbat. And if the lender does not trust him that he will return them, the borrower may leave his cloak with him as collateral and make the proper calculation with him after Shabbat. And similarly, on the eve of Passover in Jerusalem, when it occurs on Shabbat, one who is procuring a Paschal lamb may leave his cloak with him, i.e., the person from whom he is purchasing it, and take the lamb to bring as his Paschal lamb, and then make the proper calculation with him after the Festival.
Shabbat 147a-b: The Dangers of a Life of Comfort and Pleasure
31/07/2020 - 10th of Av, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna on today’s daf discusses the laws of bathing on Shabbat, which leads to an aggadic tradition about the dangers of pursuing a life of comfort and pleasure. The Gemara relates:
The wine of Phrygia [Perugaita] and the water of the Deyomset deprived Israel of the ten lost tribes. Because the members of these tribes were attracted to the pleasures of wine and bathing and did not occupy themselves with Torah, they were lost to the Jewish people. The Gemara relates that once Rabbi Eleazar ben Arakh happened to come there, to Phrygia and Deyomset, and he was drawn after them, and his Torah learning was forgotten. When he returned, he stood to read from a Torah scroll and was supposed to read the verse: “This month shall be for you [haĥodesh hazeh lakhem]”(Shemot12:2), but he had forgotten so much that he could barely remember how to read the Hebrew letters, and instead he read: Have their hearts become deaf [haĥeresh haya libbam], interchanging the similar letters reish for dalet, yod for zayin, and beit for khaf. The Sages prayed and asked for God to have mercy on him, and his learning was restored. And that is what we learned in a Mishna that Rabbi Nehorai says: Exile yourself to a place of Torah and do not say that it will follow you, as if you are in a place of Torah, your colleagues will establish it in your hands, and do not rely on your understanding alone. It was taught: Rabbi Nehorai was not his name, but rather Rabbi Neĥemya was his name; and some say that Rabbi Elazar ben Arakh was his name and his statement was based on the personal experience of forgetting his Torah due to his failure to exile himself to a place of Torah. And why was he called Rabbi Nehorai? It was because he would illuminate [manhir] the eyes of the Sages in halakha.
Rabbi Elazar’s error resulted from the similarity between the letters reish and dalet, yod and zayin, and beit and khaf. The Gemara relates the details of the error to underscore that even Rabbi Elazar ben Arakh, who was likened to an ever-flowing spring, reached so lowly a state when he left the company of the Sages (Maharsha).
Shabbat 146a-b: Opening Packaging on Shabbat
30/07/2020 - 9th of Av, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
It is generally accepted that it is permissible to open packaging in order to get access to food or other products that are needed for Shabbat. What is the source for this leniency? The Mishna on today’s daf teaches:
A person may break a barrel on Shabbat in order to eat gerogerot (=dried figs) from it, provided he does not intend to make a vessel. And one may not perforate the plug of a barrel to extract wine from it; rather, one must remove the plug entirely to avoid creating a new opening for the barrel. This is the statement of Rabbi Yehuda. And the Rabbis permit puncturing the plug, but they too restrict this leniency and say that one may not perforate the plug of the barrel on its side.
There is a dispute with regard to the rationale for the leniency that allows the barrel to be broken on Shabbat. Rashi explains that it is based on the fact that breaking a barrel is a destructive act that does not constitute a violation of Torah law. The Ran and other commentaries add that destructive acts are only permitted ab initio in cases of this kind, where one performs the act to fulfill a Shabbat need. As noted in the Mishna, one important exception is a situation where opening the package will create a vessel, e.g., where it will now be used for storage. This would be considered a creative act, which is forbidden on Shabbat. Regarding the discussion about dried figs it should be noted that the Hebrew term usually used for dried figs that were pressed together is deveilim. By using the term gerogerot, the Mishna teaches that even if the figs were only somewhat attached due to their having been packed tightly together, it is permitted to bring a utensil to cut them apart and to open the barrel (Adderet Eliyahu).
Shabbat 145a-b: Testimony Permitting a Priest to Eat a Firstborn Animal
29/07/2020 - 8th of Av, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As a segue from the Gemara’s discussion about squeezing on Shabbat the discussion turns to hearsay testimony. It is clear that in limited cases (e.g., when a woman’s ability to get married depends on it) such testimony is accepted. Can it be accepted to determine the status of a blemished firstborn animal? The Torah commands one to give the firstborn offspring of kosher animals to a priest. During the Temple period, unblemished firstborn animals were offered as sacrifices, and their meat would be eaten by the priests. Blemished firstborn animals also belonged to the priests, and the priests could eat them as non-sacred meat once experts determined that the blemish is permanent. Priests were suspected of purposely causing blemishes to firstborn animals so that they would be allowed to eat them. Consequently, the Sages decreed that priests could not eat the meat of a firstborn animal without testimony to the cause of the blemish. Since this testimony was required only to alleviate suspicion, the Sages were lenient with regard to its requirements. We learn in the Gemara:
A dilemma was raised before the Sages about a related matter: With regard to hearsay testimony in testimony permitting a priest to eat a firstborn animal, what is the halakha?
After the destruction of the Temple, the Sages decreed that if a priest has the firstborn offspring of a kosher animal and it becomes blemished, he must bring witnesses to testify that he did not cause the blemish. As noted, priests were suspected of violating the prohibition against inflicting a wound on firstborn animals to enable them to eat the animals. The question here pertains to a case in which there is no one available who can testify that he saw firsthand how the animal was blemished, but there is someone who heard from an eyewitness how the blemish was caused.
The Gemara teaches that Rav Ami prohibited accepting hearsay testimony in this case, and Rav Asi permitted doing so.
Shabbat 144a-b: Squeezing Onto Food
28/07/2020 - 7th of Av, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Recommended practice on Shabbat is to refrain from squeezing a lemon into tea, although it would be acceptable to squeeze lemon onto sugar, which will then be placed in the tea. What is the explanation for this halakha? On today’s daf we learn:
Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said: A person may squeeze a cluster of grapes on Shabbat into a pot with food in it, and it is not considered squeezing a liquid but rather adding one food to another; however, he may not squeeze the liquid into an empty bowl. Rav Hisda said: From the statement of our Rabbi, Shmuel, we learn that one may milk a goat into a pot of food on Shabbat, because it is not considered to be the manner of squeezing that is prohibited as a subcategory of the labor of threshing; however, one may not do so into an empty bowl. The Gemara deduces: Apparently, he holds that liquid that comes into food is not considered liquid, but rather, it is food.
The commentaries explain that the prohibition against squeezing juice, which is a subcategory of the labor of threshing, primarily involves separating food from waste. However, the parts of the grapes that remain after juicing are considered waste only if the intent was to use the grapes exclusively for their juice. Therefore, if one squeezes juice from grapes into another food, it is merely considered a form of food preparation in which one transfers food, i.e., the grapes, into another dish. The difference between squeezing juice into a pot or into a bowl is that there is food in the pot. When the juice is squeezed into a pot of food, the juice becomes part of that food. It is considered food that was merely separated from its original source. On the other hand, if one squeezes the juice into an empty bowl (or into a liquid, like tea), it is clear that the purpose is to remove the liquid from the fruit, which is prohibited.
Shabbat 143a-b: Squeezing on Shabbat
27/07/2020 - 6th of Av, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The twenty-second perek of Massekhet Shabbat begins on today’s daf and its main concern revolves around different types of prohibitions subsumed under the category of shevut (=a Rabbinic prohibition). Here, too, there is no single theme that unites all the topics addressed, although most of them deal with food preparation on Shabbat. One of these issues relates to the laws of squeezing on Shabbat. Squeezing is not listed as a primary category of prohibited labor. Its prohibition is not based on the act of squeezing alone; indeed, squeezing can be a subcategory of at least two primary categories of labor, depending on the circumstances: It can be a subcategory of the labor of threshing, which is defined abstractly as removing the desired contents from within an unwanted wrapping or shell, and it can be a subcategory of the labor of whitening, when the squeezing is performed in the process of washing. The relationship between squeezing and threshing is not completely clear and uniform. For example, in the practical discussions regarding milking animals on Shabbat, the question arises as to the extent to which one should understand milking as a form or subcategory of squeezing or threshing. This leads to the question of whether milking should be viewed as a Torah prohibition or a rabbinic decree. Similarly, it is necessary to delineate the fine differences between types of squeezing that can be viewed as a subcategory of threshing and other types of squeezing that are externally similar to the first type but differ with regard to the intent of the person squeezing or the purpose of the act itself. One of the cases that appear in the first Mishna is this law:
One may not squeeze fruits on Shabbat in order to extract liquids from them. And if liquids seeped out on their own, it is prohibited to use them on Shabbat. Rabbi Yehuda says: If the fruits were designated for eating, the liquid that seeps from them on Shabbat is permitted. There is no concern lest one purposely squeeze liquids from fruit that is designated for eating. And if the fruits were originally designated for liquids, the liquids that seep from them on Shabbat are prohibited.
Shabbat 142a-b: Clothing on Shabbat
26/07/2020 - 5th of Av, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
While it is forbidden to carry in a public area that has no eiruv on Shabbat, clearly a person can wear clothing without concern for this prohibition. The explanation for this is that clothing become batel (=nullified) with respect to the person who is wearing the clothing. On yesterday’s daf we learned:
Rava said: If one carried out a living baby to the public domain on Shabbat, and a purse was hanging around the baby’s neck, he is liable for carrying out the purse. The Gemara asks: And let him be liable for carrying out the baby as well. The Gemara responds: Rava holds in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Natan, who said: A living being carries itself. Therefore, one who carries a living being from one domain to another is not liable. The Gemara asks: And let the purse be negated relative to the baby; and he should be exempt for carrying out the purse as well. Didn’t we learn in a Mishna: One who carries out a living person on a bed is exempt even for carrying out the bed, because the bed is secondary to the person? The same should be said with regard to the purse, relative to the baby. The Gemara answers: In a case where a bed is relative to a living being, the living being negates it, as the bed is needed to carry the person and is secondary to him. However, in a case where a purse is relative to a baby, the baby does not negate it, since it is independently significant.
On today’s daf the Gemara applies this reasoning to cases of wearing clothing:
It was taught in a baraita in accordance with the opinion of Rava: On Shabbat, one who carries out his clothes to the public domain while they are folded and placed on his shoulder, and his sandals on his feet and his rings in his hand, not on his fingers, is liable. And if he was wearing them, he is exempt for all of them, as they are negated relative to him. One who carries out a person with his garments on him, and his sandals on his feet, and his rings on the fingers of his hands, i.e., wearing all of his clothes and jewelry in the typical manner, is exempt, whereas if he carried them out as they are, i.e., the person was holding his clothes in his hands, he is liable for carrying out the clothes, just as Rava said.
Shabbat 141a-b: When Can You Move a Stone on Shabbat?
25/07/2020 - 4th of Av, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The twenty-first perek of Massekhet Shabbat deals with a topic that has already been introduced earlier in the tractate, the laws of set-aside [muktze] - items that are set aside and may not be handled on Shabbat - though from a fresh perspective. Here, too, the discussion is not about different items that are set aside, but about particular categories of items that all agree may not be moved on Shabbat because they are not utensils and are not fit to be handled. It was clear to the Sages that such items may not be handled directly; the discussion in this chapter primarily addresses the question of whether it is permitted to move these types of set-aside items, and set-aside items generally, through another object or for the sake of something else.
The first example offered in the Mishna on today’s daf teaches: A person may take his son in his hands on Shabbat, and even though there is a stone, which is a set-aside item, in the child’s hand, it is not prohibited to pick up the child.
The Gemara discusses why the father may pick up his son even though the child is holding a stone, assuming at first that it is because the stone is considered to be batel – negated – in the context of the child. This position is rejected, however, and another possibility is suggested.
The Sages of the school of Rabbi Yannai say: You cannot infer from this Mishna that the stone is negated and therefore it is permitted to move it. Rather, the Mishna is referring to a baby who has longings for his father.
It is permitted for the father to move the stone because if the father does not lift him, the baby might take ill. Some commentaries explain that the baby longs for the stone and would cry if his father would take it from him. Therefore, the Sages permit the father to carry both of them (Tosefot Rid).
Shabbat 140a-b: Medicines on Shabbat
24/07/2020 - 3rd of Av, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Sages prohibited taking medicines on Shabbat – unless the individual is suffering from a condition that might be life-threatening – due to the concern that the medicine may be prepared by grinding herbs in a forbidden manner. If, however, the medicinal product is one that is enjoyed by healthy people, as well, then there is no prohibition. The Mishna on today’s daf teaches:
One may not soak asafoetida in lukewarm water to prepare a medicinal drink from it; however, one may place it into vinegar like a standard spice. The Gemara asks: For what purpose is soaked asafoetida prepared? The Gemara answers: As a cure for heaviness of the heart. One who feels a pain in his heart drinks asafoetida. The Gemara relates: Rav Aha bar Yosef felt heaviness in his heart. He came before Mar Ukva to ask his advice. Mar Ukva said to him: Go drink the weight of three shekels of asafoetida in three days. He went and drank on Thursday and Shabbat eve. In the morning, he went and asked in the study hall if he could drink it on Shabbat. They said to him: The Sage from the school of Rav Adda taught, and others say, that the Sage from the school of Mar bar Rav Adda taught: A person may drink asafoetida on Shabbat, even a kav or two kav, and he need not be concerned about the decree prohibiting medicine, because asafoetida is drunk by healthy people as well.
Ferula assafoetida, also known as devil’s dung or giant fennel, is a perennial plant of the umbel family. It has a thick root and a stem with leafed branches. The asafoetida grows to a height of 6-9 feet. It is native mainly to Afghanistan and the neighboring regions. The plant grows for several years until it blossoms and produces fruit, after which it dies. Medicinal asafoetida is manufactured from the resin found in the root of the plant. It was used, and is still used today, as a medicine in the form of powder, creams, pills, etc., both for intestinal diseases and for strengthening the nervous system. In certain places, asafoetida is even used as a spice. Consumption of asafetida in amounts of more than a gram is dangerous and can lead to poisoning.
Shabbat 139a-b: Will the Torah Really be Forgotten?
23/07/2020 - 2nd of Av, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we learned on yesterday’s daf,  Rav Huna related that Rav said: “The Torah is destined to be forgotten from the Jewish people.” This position is somewhat surprising, and an opposing view was taught in another baraita that appears on today’s daf.
Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai says: Heaven forfend that the Torah should be forgotten from the Jewish people, as it is stated: “And this song shall answer to him as a witness, for it shall not be forgotten from his seed” (Devarim 31:21). Rather, how do I explain: “They will roam to find the word of God, but they will not find it”? It means that they will not find clear halakha and clear teaching together, but rather there will be disputes among the Sages.
The concept of “clear halakha” may be understood as follows: As long as the Great Sanhedrin met in the Chamber of the Hewn Stone in the Temple, every legal discussion concluded with a vote that determined the halakha. After the destruction of the Temple, the number of disputes increased (Tosefot Rid). Some commentaries emphasize the problem to be that clear halakha cannot be found in one place; rather, people will be forced to seek answers in many places, as in each place they will know only a bit. Following this teaching, the Gemara continues with other statements about judges and their legal decisions.
It was taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yosei ben Elisha says: If you see a generation that many troubles are befalling it, go and examine the judges of Israel. Perhaps their sins are the cause, as any calamity that comes to the world comes due to the judges of Israel acting corruptly, as it is stated: “Please hear this, heads of the house of Jacob, and officers of the house of Israel, who abhor justice and pervert all equity, who build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. Their heads they judge for bribes, and their priests teach for hire, and their prophets divine for money; yet they lean upon the Lord, saying: Is not the Lord in our midst? No evil shall befall us” (Micah 3:9–11). The Gemara comments: They are wicked, but they placed their trust in the One Who spoke and the world came into being, the Almighty. Therefore, the Holy One, Blessed be He, brings upon them three calamities corresponding to the three transgressions for which they are responsible, as it is stated in the following verse: “Therefore, because of you, Zion shall be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the Temple Mount as the high places of a forest” (Micah 3:12).
One explanation of the fact that people who placed their trust in the Almighty are called wicked is because they believed that since God determines the world order and planted the evil inclination within each person, individuals do not bear responsibility for their actions (Ahavat Eitan).
Shabbat 138a-b: Torah at the End of Days
22/07/2020 - 1st of Av, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara relates that Rami bar Yehezkel asked Rav Huna to relate a number of teachings that he had heard from Rav. One of them was a homiletical piece about Torah study.
With regard to Torah, Rav Huna related that Rav said: The Torah is destined to be forgotten from the Jewish people. It is stated at the conclusion of the curses in the Torah’s reproof: “And the Lord will make your plagues astonishing, and the plagues of your seed, great plagues of long continuance, and evil diseases of long continuance” (Devarim 28:59). This term of astonishment, mentioned in the verse in addition to the explicit punishments, I do not know what it is. But when the verse states elsewhere: “Therefore, behold, I will continue to astonish this people with wondrous astonishment, and the wisdom of its wise will be lost, and the understanding of its men of understanding shall be hidden” (Yeshayahu 29:14), you must say: This astonishment is referring to forgetting the Torah.
Some commentaries explain Rav’s statement as follows: The Torah is destined to be forgotten if the Oral Law is transmitted by word of mouth, rather than being written down. Therefore, it is imperative to commit the Oral Law to writing to prevent it from being forgotten (Korban Netanel).
The Sages taught a similar idea in the Tosefta: When our Sages entered the vineyard in Yavne, they said: The Torah is destined to be forgotten from the Jewish people, as it is stated: “Behold, days are approaching, says the Lord God, and I will send forth a hunger in the land, not a hunger for bread and not a thirst for water, but for hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11). And it states: “And they will drift from sea to sea, and from north to east they will roam to find the word of the Lord, but they will not find it” (Amos 8:12). “The word of the Lord” in this context bears many meanings. “The word of the Lord”; that is halakha.The word of the Lord”; that is the end of days. “The word of the Lord”; that is prophecy. All these will be lost from the Jewish people.
Since “It is the honor of God to conceal a matter [haster davar]” (Mishlei 25:2), and the end of days is known to God alone and to no one else, this statement should be interpreted to mean that the word of God [devar Hashem], i.e., that which is uniquely His, is referring to the end of days (Iyyei HaYam; Ein Ya’akov).
Shabbat 137a-b: Blessings and Prayers at the Circumcision Ceremony
21/07/2020 - 29th of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Sages taught in a Tosefta that one who circumcises a child recites:Who has made us holy through His commandments, and commanded us concerning circumcision.” The father of the circumcised child recites: “Who has made us holy through His commandments, and commanded us to bring him into the covenant of Abraham, our father.” Those standing there recite: “Just as he has entered into the covenant, so may he enter into Torah, marriage, and good deeds.” And the one who recites the additional blessing says: “Who made the beloved one holy from the womb, marked the decree in his flesh, and gave his descendants the seal and the sign of the holy covenant. Therefore, as a reward for this, the living God, our Portion, commanded to deliver the beloved of our flesh from destruction, for the sake of His covenant that He set in our flesh. Blessed are You, Lord, Who establishes the covenant.”
The one who recites the blessing is a designated individual, whether the person who performed the circumcision or any other person, who holds a cup of wine in his hand and recites an additional blessing over the circumcision. Some authorities explain that the rationale for the second blessing is that since this mitzva was already fulfilled by the Patriarchs, the Sages instituted a special blessing in their honor (Tosefot Rid). Regarding the additional prayer that is added Tosafot explain that the statement "Who made the beloved one holy from the womb" alludes to all of the Patriarchs. Some commentaries suggest that Rashi says this entire blessing refers only to Yitzhak, because he was the first to be circumcised at eight days. Yitzhak is described as beloved in the verse “Your son…whom you love” (Bereshit 22:2; Me’iri). There is also a dispute over the word tzadi, vav, heh that appears in this blessing: Some commentaries explain that it should be pronounced tzavei, and it is a request that God save us from the punishments of Gehenna. That reading appeared in many prayer books. The ge’onim and others, however, read it as tziva, past tense, in praise for an event that already took place.
Shabbat 136a-b: How Long Must a Baby Live Before it is Deemed a Viable Child?
20/07/2020 - 28th of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
How long must a baby live before it is not deemed to be stillborn? This question is raised by the Gemara regarding the laws of circumcision, but is applied to other areas of Jewish law, as well.
It was stated that the Sages discussed the following question: What is the ruling in a case where a baby died within thirty days after birth, leaving its mother a childless widow, and before they decided whether or not she was obligated in levirate marriage, she stood and was betrothed to another? Ravina said in the name of Rava: If she is the wife of an Israelite, meaning she became betrothed to an Israelite, who may marry a woman who has undergone halitza, she performs halitza due to uncertainty. Given that the child may have been stillborn and therefore never considered alive, in which case she would be obligated to undergo levirate marriage or performhalitza, by performing halitza, she removes any doubt and can remain with her new husband. However, if she is the wife of a priest, she does not perform halitza, as if she were to perform halitza she would be prohibited to her husband the priest. Since there are those who hold that the baby is considered alive from the moment of its birth, based on that opinion, she is exempt from performing halitza, after the fact. Rav Sherevya said in the name of Rava: Both this, the woman married to an Israelite, and that, the woman married to a priest, perform  halitza, as the prohibition against marrying a woman not released from her bond of levirate marriage is a stringent one, and the fact that her husband is a priest is not taken into consideration. The laws of levirate marriage and halitza appear in the Torah (Devarim 25:5–10) and are articulated at length in tractate Yevamot, which is devoted to this topic. The basic concept is that if a man dies with no living descendants, his wife is obligated by a levirate bond to her husband’s brother. The brother must either take her as a wife through levirate marriage, or sever the bond by means of the ceremony of halitza. As long as the levirate bond is intact, it is prohibited for her to marry a different man, and if she does so, as long as her marriage continues she is performing an ongoing transgression. Although the halakhot of levirate marriage and halitza are not like those of a regular marriage, and a woman who has undergone halitza is not prohibited to marry a priest by Torah law, the Sages decreed that the legal status of a woman who undergoes halitza is that of a divorcée, in the sense that it is prohibited for a priest to marry her.
Shabbat135a-b: The Status of an Androgynous
19/07/2020 - 27th of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
We learned in the Mishna:
If there is uncertainty whether or not to circumcise a baby, and likewise in the case of an androgynous (a hermaphrodite baby), one does not desecrate Shabbat to perform the circumcision of an androgynous even on the eighth day following the birth. The Sages taught in a baraita: The verse states: “And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised” (Vayikra 12:3), and they interpreted the verse: “His foreskin” indicates that only the circumcision of his halakhically certain foreskin overrides Shabbat, and the circumcision of a halakhically uncertain foreskin does not override Shabbat. And by means of the same inference from the termhis foreskin, derive that circumcision of his definite foreskin overrides Shabbat, and circumcising the foreskin of an androgynous, with regard to whom there is uncertainty whether or not circumcision is required, does not override Shabbat. Rabbi Yehuda says: The circumcision of an androgynous overrides Shabbat, and if he is not circumcised, when he reaches majority he is punishable by karet. Rabbi Yehuda interprets the verse in the following manner: His definite foreskin overrides Shabbat; however, the circumcision of one born at twilight does not override Shabbat.
Medicine recognizes two types of androgynous. A true androgynous has both male and female sexual glands, while a Pseudohermaphrodite has the appearance of both male and female sexual organs, although the individual actually has only one set of sexual glands. According to the Sages, the challenge in both of these cases is that we cannot be certain that we are dealing with a male child who is obligated in the commandment of circumcision. Rabbi Yehuda agrees that in situations where it is not clear that there is an obligation to perform circumcision, e.g., if we are uncertain as to whether the baby was actually born on Shabbat, Shabbat cannot be overridden. Nevertheless he interprets the passage in Sefer Bereshit (17:10) as offering a broad requirement to circumcise “every male among you,” which, he argues, includes an androgynous.
Shabbat 134a-b: Circumcising a Red or Pale Child
18/07/2020 - 26th of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
If a baby displays signs of possible illness, and the circumcision might be dangerous, the baby is not circumcised at the appointed time. As an example of this, the Gemara relates a number of stories about Rabbi Natan's ruling in such cases:
Rabbi Natan said: On one occasion, I went to the coastal cities, and one woman came before me who circumcised her first son and he died,and she circumcised her second son and he died, and since she feared circumcising the third due to concern that he might die as well, she brought him before me. I saw that he was red. I said to her: Wait until his blood is absorbed into him. She waited until his blood was absorbed into him and then circumcised him, and he lived. And they would call him Natan the Babylonian after my name. Rabbi Natan further related: On another occasion I went to the state of Cappadocia, and a woman came before mewho circumcised her first son and he died, and she circumcised her second son and he died. Since she feared circumcising the third due to concern that he might die as well, she brought him before me. I saw that he was pale. I looked at him and I could not see in him the blood of the covenant, i.e., he had a blood deficiency. I said to her: Wait until blood enters him. And she waited and then circumcised him, and he lived. And they would call his name Natan the Babylonian after my name.
Several medical explanations were proposed to identify the diseases from which the babies seen by Rabbi Natan were suffering. With regard to the child who was red, some presume that the children of that family suffered from a rare hereditary blood disease known as purple disease, purpura hemorrhagica. The child who was pale was probably sick with hemolytic jaundice of the newborn, which is also hereditary.
Shabbat 133a-b: Placing the Showbread on the Table in the Temple
17/07/2020 - 25th of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As a segue from the ongoing discussion about circumcision, the Gemara turns its attention to the showbread in the Temple.
Four priests would enter the Sanctuary every Shabbat to arrange the showbread, two of whom had two orders of six loaves each in their hands, and two had two bowls of frankincense in their hands. And four priests would precede them; two came to take the two orders of bread left on the table from the previous week, and two came to take the two bowls of frankincense. Next, those bringing the loaves and bowls into the Sanctuary would stand in the north of the Sanctuary, facing south, while those carrying the loaves and bowls out would stand in the south of the Sanctuary, facing north. These slide the old bread along the table, and these place the new bread on the table, and as a result, the handbreadth of this one would be alongside the handbreadth of that one, so that the requisite amount of bread would always be present on the table, as it is stated: “And you shall place on the table showbread before Me continuously” (Shemot 25:30). Rabbi Yosei said: Even if these priests were first to take the old bread off the table entirely, and only afterward were these priests to place the new ones on the table, this too would fulfill the requirement that the showbread be on the table continuously. It is unnecessary to ensure the uninterrupted presence of the showbread on the table.
The showbread, which was placed on the sacred table in the Sanctuary (Shemot 25:23–30), was comprised of twelve loaves arranged on wooden slats in two stacks of six loaves each. Atop each stack or, according to another opinion, between them, were two bowls of frankincense. The showbread remained on the table from one Shabbat to the next. Every Shabbat the priests would remove the old bread and replace it with new bread. The old bread was divided among the priests and eaten. The dispute between Rabbi Yosei and the Sages is with regard to the proper interpretation of the word “always” (Shemot 25:30) with regard to the transition from the old loaves to the new ones.
Shabbat 132a-b: When a Positive Mitzva Overrides a Negative One
16/07/2020 - 24th of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we have learned, the mitzva to perform circumcision overrides the prohibitions of Shabbat. This rule does not fit into the usual rubric of aseh doheh lo ta'aseh – that a positive mitzva overrides a negative one – since Shabbat is not simply a negative commandment; it is a positive commandment, as well. For this reason the Gemara on today's daf brings a number of different opinions offering different sources for this law. The Gemara also discusses other cases where positive and negative commandments stand in contradiction and rulings must be made based on setting priorities. For example, the mitzva of circumcision will be performed even if it involves cutting off a leprous sign on the child's foreskin, but someone suffering from leprosy may not perform the Temple service even though it is a mitzva. The Gemara explains:
Rather, Rav Ashi said that this is the reason that leprosy does not override the Temple service: Where do we say that a positive mitzva overrides a negative mitzva? It is in cases like circumcision in a case of leprosy, or alternatively, tzitzit and kilayim (diverse kinds of wool and linen), as at the time the negative mitzva is uprooted, the positive mitzva is fulfilled in the very same action, e.g., when the ritual fringes are woolen and will be attached to a linen garment, a prohibited mixture is created. However, here, in the case of a person afflicted with pure symptoms of leprosy cutting off his symptoms to enable his involvement in the Temple service, it is different, at the time the negative mitzva is uprooted, the positive mitzva is not yet fulfilled, as cutting off the symptoms is only a preliminary action that enables him to serve. In that case, the positive mitzva does not override the negative one.
The cases of ritual fringes and diverse kinds cited here are not classic examples of positive mitzvot overriding negative mitzvot, because both cases mentioned here are derived from a particular source. The halakha in the case of leprosy and circumcision is derived from an a fortiori inference, and the halakha in the case of ritual fringes and diverse kinds is based on a juxtaposition of verses. Nevertheless, the following principle learned from these cases applies to other laws: The positive commandment overrides the negative commandment only when the fulfillment of the positive commandment is simultaneous with the violation of the negative commandment (Ramban; see Me’iri).
Shabbat 131a-b: Overriding Shabbat to Perform a Mitzva
15/07/2020 - 23rd of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we learned on yesterday's daf, when a child must be circumcised on Shabbat, the Shabbat prohibitions can be overridden by the mitzva to perform the brit milah. On today's daf we learn that Rabbi Eliezer believes that this is not a halakha that is unique to circumcision; in fact there are many commandments that override the laws of Shabbat. For example, the Gemara teaches that such mitzvot as lulav, sukka, matza and shofar will all take precedence over Shabbat, if necessary. Rabbi Yohanan teaches, however, that -
Rabbi Eliezer did not say with regard to all mitzvot that actions that facilitate performance of a mitzva override Shabbat.
This is not a fixed principle with regard to preparations for all mitzvot. Rather, each case must be considered on its own merits, and proof must be cited that this principle applies to a specific mitzva. Which mitzvot do not override Shabbat even according to Rabbi Eliezer?
Rav Adda bar Ahava said: The statement of Rabbi Yohanan comes to exclude attaching ritual fringes to his garment and affixing a mezuza to the doorway, which do not override Shabbat. The Gemara notes that that was also taught in a baraita: And they, Rabbi Eliezer and the Rabbis, agree that if one attached ritual fringes to his garment on Shabbat, and similarly, if one affixed a mezuza to his doorway on Shabbat, that he is liable.
The Gemara explains this as follows:
Rav Nahman said that Rav Yitzhak said, and some say that he said that Rav Huna, son of Rav Yehoshua, said: The actions that facilitate the performance of these mitzvot do not override Shabbat, since one can render the relevant objects ownerless.
One is only required to perform these mitzvot if the objects, i.e., the garment and the house, belong to him. If he renders them ownerless, he is no longer obligated to perform these mitzvot. According to Rashi, who is of the opinion that there is an obligation to affix ritual fringes even to a garment not currently in use, rendering one’s garment ownerless is the only way to exempt oneself from the mitzva to affix ritual fringes to its corners. According to other authorities, who rule that a garment which is not being worn is exempt from ritual fringes, either the Gemara chose one rationale from a number of possible explanations (Rashba), or this reason was chosen because it applies to both ritual fringes and mezuza (Ramban).
Shabbat 130a-b: Circumcision
14/07/2020 - 22nd of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The nineteenth perek of Massekhet Shabbat, which begins on today's daf focuses in its entirety on the laws of brit milah generally and on its performance on Shabbat specifically. The Sages received an oral tradition that the mitzva of circumcision overrides Shabbat when it is performed at its proper time, on the eighth day after birth. Although all the Sages accepted this tradition, they disputed many details of its application. Such details include the handling of borderline cases, the precise definitions of the act of circumcision, and the actions necessary for its performance. Several issues arise with regard to circumcision on Shabbat. The first question pertains to situations in which it is not entirely clear whether there is a mitzva to circumcise the child or whether the proper time for circumcision has arrived. Some Sages are of the opinion that circumcision overrides Shabbat only if there is absolutely no doubt as to its obligation. Others hold that in some circumstances an uncertain obligation to circumcise does override Shabbat, and these Sages debate which conditions are required. Another issue is whether the preparations for circumcision override Shabbat. The medical attention the baby will require immediately after the circumcision does override Shabbat, as his life could be endangered if he does not receive it. The Sages consider whether actions to prepare for the circumcision, such as bringing the knife and preparing it for use, also override Shabbat, and if so, which preparations are considered essential in this regard. Another essential issue pertains to how broadly circumcision overrides Shabbat. Does circumcision override Shabbat at every stage of the operation no matter how it is performed, and is anyone involved in circumcision exempt from Shabbat prohibitions? Or perhaps circumcision overrides Shabbat only when one completes the mitzva properly and in its entirety? To address these questions it becomes necessary to clarify the scope of the mitzva and to identify its obligatory components.
Shabbat 129a-b: The Importance and Danger of Bloodletting
13/07/2020 - 21st of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara on today's daf discusses medicinal bloodletting. Bloodletting involves spilling small quantities of blood. It was used both as a cure and as a general preventive therapy that was believed to keep a person healthy. Bloodletting was based on an ancient system of medicine in which blood and other bodily fluid were considered to be humors, the proper balance of which was believed to maintain health. It was the most common medical practice performed by doctors on both humans and animals from antiquity through the late 19th century, a period of almost two millennia. Today it is well established that bloodletting is not effective for most diseases. The only remaining condition for which it is used is Polycythemia vera, a disease in which the body produces too many red blood cells. Even in Talmudic times the Sages recognized the potential danger involved in bloodletting, and there were several methods undertaken to reinforce the body afterward. Eating meat in general, and eating organs from the circulatory system in particular, e.g., the spleen, is useful in restoring lost blood and replenishing hemoglobin after bloodletting. Wine accelerates circulation, as does warming oneself by a fire. Based on this the Gemara relates the following about bloodletting and drinking wine.
Shmuel, on the day on which he would perform the practice of bloodletting, they would prepare for him a dish of cooked spleen. Rabbi Yohanan would drink wine after bloodletting until the odor emerged from his ears. And Rav Nahman would drink until his spleen floated in wine. Rav Yosef would drink until the wine would emerge from the bloodletting incision. Rava would search for wine that was sufficiently aged such that three leaves had already grown over three years on the vine from which the grapes were picked. Rav Nahman bar Yitzhak said to the Sages: I beg of you, on the day that you undergo bloodletting, tell your households, your wives: Nahman bar Yitzhak happened to come to visit us. Due to the visit of the important guest, the women will prepare a large meal. The husbands will eat well, recover from the lost blood, and avoid endangering themselves.
Shabbat 128a-b: Giving Birth on Shabbat
12/07/2020 - 20th of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna on today's daf teaches that a woman who is giving birth has the status of an ill person for whom Sabbath desecration is permitted. The Mishna teaches:
And one may birth a woman even on Shabbat, and call a midwife for her to travel from place to place, even when the midwife’s travel involves the desecration of Shabbat. And one may desecrate Shabbat for a woman giving birth. And one may tie the umbilical cord of a child born on Shabbat. Rabbi Yosei says: One may even cut the umbilical cord.
The Gemara clarifies this ruling further:
Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said: With regard to a woman in childbirth, as long as the womb is open, whether she said: I need Shabbat to be desecrated, or whether she did not say: I need Shabbat to be desecrated, one desecrates Shabbat for her. Generally, a woman in childbirth is in danger, and prohibited labors may be performed in life-threatening circumstances. Once the womb closed after birth, whether the woman who gave birth said: I need Shabbat to be desecrated, or whether she did not say: I need Shabbat to be desecrated, one does not desecrate Shabbat for her.
Regarding the latter case, the Ramban writes that this discussion is referring to a situation in which there is no doctor present. However, if a doctor is present, and he determines that the woman requires care that involves desecrating Shabbat, then her protestations to the contrary are ignored. Perhaps her ability to make a rational decision is compromised due to her pain and suffering. Halakhic rulings are always lenient in cases of uncertainty with regard to a life-threatening situation. It is interesting to note that the Gemara uses the word kever as a euphemism for the womb. Although the Talmud does not shy away from discussing any issue, as all aspects of life require talmudic study, the Sages consistently employ euphemisms. In this case, the word kever, literally grave, is a euphemism for the womb. This particular euphemism was influenced by the verse in which these two items are listed together among things that are never satisfied: “The grave and the barren womb” (Mishlei 30:16).
Shabbat 127a-b: Giving the Benefit of the Doubt
11/07/2020 - 19th of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara on today’s daf  offers several stories of people who gave others the benefit of the doubt.
The Sages taught in a baraita: One who judges another favorably is himself judged favorably. And there was an incident involving a certain person who descended from the Upper Galilee and was hired to work for a certain homeowner in the South for three years. On the eve of the Day of Atonement, he said to the homeowner: Give me my wages, and I will go and feed my wife and children. The homeowner said to him: I have no money. He said to him: In that case, give me my wages in the form of produce. He said to him: I have none. The worker said to him: Give me my wages in the form of land. The homeowner said to him: I have none. The worker said to him: Give me my wages in the form of animals. He said to him: I have none. The worker said to him: Give me cushions and blankets. He said to him: I have none. The worker slung his tools over his shoulder behind him and went to his home in anguish. After the festival of Sukkot, the homeowner took the worker’s wages in his hand, along with a burden that required three donkeys, one laden with food, one laden with drink, and one laden with types of sweets, and went to the worker’s home. After they ate and drank, the homeowner gave him his wages. The homeowner said to him: When you said to me: Give me my wages, and I said: I have no money, of what did you suspect me? Why did you not suspect me of trying to avoid paying you? The worker answered, I said: Perhaps the opportunity to purchase merchandise [perakmatya] inexpensively presented itself, and you purchased it with the money that you owed me, and therefore you had no money available.The homeowner asked: And when you said to me: Give me animals, and I said: I have no animals, of what did you suspect me? The worker answered: I said: Perhaps the animals are hired to others. The homeowner asked: When you said to me: Give me land, and I said: I have no land, of what did you suspect me? The worker answered: I said: Perhaps the land is leased to others, and you cannot take the land from the lessees. The homeowner asked: And when you said to me: Give me produce, and I said: I have no produce, of what did you suspect me? The worker answered: I said: Perhaps they are not tithed, and that was why you could not give them to me. The homeowner asked: And when I said: I have no cushions or blankets, of what did you suspect me? The worker answered: I said: Perhaps he consecrated all his property to Heaven and therefore has nothing available at present. The homeowner said to him: I swear by the Temple service that it was so. I had no money available at the time because I vowed and consecrated all my property on account of Hyrcanus, my son, who did not engage in Torah study. The homeowner sought to avoid leaving an inheritance for his son. And when I came to my fellow residents in the South, the Sages of that generation, they dissolved all my vows. At that point, the homeowner had immediately gone to pay his worker. Now the homeowner said: And you, just as you judged favorably, so may God judge you favorably.
In the She’iltot, Rav Ahai Gaon cited this incident and identified the homeowner as Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus and the worker who he hired as Rabbi Akiva.
Shabbat 126a-b: Rabbinic Decrees (Shevut) on Shabbat
10/07/2020 - 18th of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The eighth perek of Massekhet Shabbat addresses three different halakhot that are only slightly related to one another. One topic continues the discussion of some of the laws of items that have been set aside from Shabbat use, a continuation of the discussion in the last perek. The second topic addresses caring for and handling animals on Shabbat. The third topic examines the situation of a woman who has given birth on Shabbat, and caring for her in ways that could constitute prohibited labors. These halakhot do not seem to be related, but they are all included in the category of shevut, prohibitions that are not from the Torah like the categories of prohibited labor, but which were instituted by the Sages on Shabbat and the Festivals in order to prevent the violation of Torah prohibitions or to enhance the sanctity of the day. There are shevut decrees that apply to many different areas, and this chapter addresses only some of them. However, we can derive from these examples the scope of shevut restrictions in many areas, remembering that each one is based upon rabbinic decree. The halakhot discussed in this chapter are further related. Since the Sages themselves instituted these prohibitions as protective measures to prevent violation of Torah law, they could also be lenient in certain cases. This is possible only with regard to rabbinic decrees, but not with regard to prohibitions that stem from Torah law; as the Sages expressed it: They said [it is prohibited] and they said [it is permitted in particular circumstances]. For example, in cases of significant need, such as for the honor of guests or to facilitate Torah study, the Sages permitted several actions that would otherwise have been prohibited due to muktze. Such leniencies also exist with regard to other shevut restrictions, such as caring for animals on Shabbat. Although there are restrictions due to several relevant rabbinic decrees and concerns, since these are not Torah prohibitions, the Sages were lenient when necessary in order to prevent significant monetary loss or to prevent animals from experiencing pain. After addressing the permitted methods of caring for birthing animals on Shabbat, the chapter discusses how to care for a woman who gives birth on Shabbat. Here the Gemara even addresses activities that are prohibited by Torah law as well as those prohibited by rabbinic decree, as both are permitted in order to save a life. The halakha is very lenient in such cases, to the point that it is permissible to perform any prohibited labor in the event of even a small concern for danger to human life.
Shabbat 125a-b: Of Gourds and Windows on Shabbat
09/07/2020 - 17th of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna on today’s daf deals with two distinct issues. 1. If something that cannot be moved on Shabbat is connected with an object whose use is permitted on Shabbat, it can be used. The Mishna teaches:
A stone that is in a gourd used to draw water [kiruya], if they fill it with water and the stone does not fall, one may fill with it on Shabbat, and if not, and the stone does fall, one may not fill with it. With regard to a vine branch that is tied to a pitcher, one may fill water with it on Shabbat because the branch became part of the vessel.
Different vessels are fashioned from various kinds of gourds, especially from the species Lagenaria vulgaris. These vessels include jugs, buckets for drawing water, and dishes. Since these vessels are particularly lightweight and float on water, it is necessary to place a rock inside the gourd to draw water from a well or a stream. 2. It is forbidden to build a building on Shabbat, and even adding to an existing building on Shabbat is forbidden by the Sages. The Mishna teaches:
With regard to a window shutter, Rabbi Eliezer says: When it is tied to and hanging from the window, i.e., it is not touching the ground, one may shutter the window with it, because it is not considered building; and if not, i.e., it is touching the ground, one may not shutter the window with it. And the Rabbis say: Both in this case and in that case one may shutter with it.
In talmudic times, the window shutter was typically tied to and hanging from the window. At times, wood that was not attached to the window was placed in the window as a shutter. When not in use, it was placed alongside the window and utilized for other purposes as well. There are various opinions among the commentaries with regard to a window shutter. Rashi holds that the prohibition of building temporary structures applies only to a roof and not to walls. Therefore, the window here is a skylight in the roof. That opinion was rejected in Tosafot. With regard to the shutter, some say that it is referring to a piece of wood that is neither connected to the window by a hinge nor by a rope (Me’iri). Other commentaries state that this is referring to a cloth curtain that slides open and closed (Rav Natan Av HaYeshiva; Rambam’s Commentary on the Mishna).
Shabbat 124a-b: Using the Shards of Broken Vessels on Shabbat
08/07/2020 - 16th of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Continuing its discussion of the laws of muktze, the Mishna teaches:
All vessels that may be moved on Shabbat, their shards may be moved along with them, as long as they are suited for some purpose. Shards of a large bowl may be used to cover the mouth of a barrel. Shards of a glass vessel may be used to cover the mouth of a cruse. Rabbi Yehuda says: As long as they are suited for a purpose similar to their original use. Shards of a large bowl must be suited to pour soup into them, and shards of a glass vessel must be suited to pour oil into them.
The Sages of the Jerusalem Talmud asked: Why doesn’t the Gemara state that a shard of glass can be utilized to cut something, just as is stated in the Mishna, which deals with the laws of carrying from domain to domain? They offer two answers: The first is that the Gemara is discussing a shard of glass that is not sharp enough to cut something. The second is that there is a distinction in size between an object large enough to be considered significant with regard to the prohibited labor of carrying out on the one hand, and a smaller size which is sufficient to remove an object from the category of set-aside [muktze]. The difference of opinion in the Mishna is explained by the Gemara as dependent on how the shards of a vessel are perceived. The Gemara explains:
Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said: This dispute in the Mishna is only with regard to a case where the vessels broke on Shabbat, as this Sage, the Rabbis, holds it was prepared before Shabbat as part of the original vessel, and this Sage, Rabbi Yehuda, holds that it is an item that came into being on Shabbat. Since they were not shards before Shabbat, they are a new entity and are set-aside. However, if they were broken from before the onset of Shabbat everyone agrees that it is permitted to move them, since they were prepared to serve some function while it was still day, before the onset of Shabbat.
Shabbat 123a-b: Using a Hammer on Shabbat to Crack Nuts
07/07/2020 - 15th of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we learned on yesterday’s daf, the first Mishna in the perek lists utensils that are ordinarily used for activities that are forbidden on Shabbat, but can be used for activities that are permitted on Shabbat. One example was a hammer, which can be used to crack nuts on Shabbat. On today’s daf the Gemara explains that there is no prohibition because,
using an object whose primary function is for a prohibited use, for the purpose of utilizing the object itself to perform a permitted action, is permitted.
Nevertheless, there is a disagreement among the amora’im regarding the type of hammer that may be used for a permitted purpose.
Rabbi Hiyya bar Abba said that Rabbi Yohanan said: It was with regard to the hammer of goldsmiths that we learned it may be used to crack nuts. Although the goldsmith is particular about ensuring that the hammer remains smooth and avoids using it for any purpose other than its particular use, nevertheless, it was allowed to be used for other permitted actions. Rav Shemen bar Abba said: It was with regard to the hammer of spice merchants that we learned it may be used to crack nuts. The Gemara explains: The one who said it is permitted to crack nuts on Shabbat using the hammer of spice merchants, all the more so that it is permitted to use a hammer typically used by goldsmiths. However, the one who said that it is only permitted to use a hammer used by goldsmiths, but with regard to the hammer of spice merchants, the merchant is particular about it and would not allow it to be used for cracking nuts. According to this opinion, use for other purposes would cause the hammer to absorb foreign smells, which would ruin the spices.
Shabbat 122a-b; Things That Are Muktze - Set Aside From Use on Shabbat
06/07/2020 - 14th of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The seventeenth perek of Massekhet Shabbat is devoted to a thorough analysis of the prohibition against handling items that are muktze, set aside from use on Shabbat. This halakha has already been mentioned several times in tractate Shabbat, but it has not yet been addressed in a systematic and thorough fashion. The prohibition applies to items that one has mentally set aside from using on Shabbat for some reason, meaning that one assumes he will not use them over the course of Shabbat. It is not entirely clear why handling items that have been set aside is prohibited. Some have explained that the decree against handling such items serves as a protective measure to ensure that one will not perform prohibited labors on Shabbat. If one may not handle the items used to perform prohibited labors, one will not perform the prohibited labors themselves. Others have suggested that the prohibition is meant to protect against violation of the prohibited labor of carrying from one domain to another. By limiting one’s ability to handle a large number of items, the Sages sought to decrease the likelihood that one would carry items between domains. Halakhic discussions generally focus on three types of set-aside [muktze] items: Items set aside because of repulsiveness, items set aside because of function, and items set aside because of monetary loss. The first group includes things that are not generally used or handled, either because they are dirty or because they are repulsive for some other reason. The second group includes objects whose primary function is for an activity that constitutes a prohibited labor on Shabbat. The third group includes items that are generally used only for a particular activity that is prohibited on Shabbat, and the owner of these items is careful not to use them for any other purpose, due to a concern that they will be damaged and he will suffer a financial loss. The first Mishna in the perek lists utensils that are ordinarily used for activities that are forbidden on Shabbat, but can be used for activities that are permitted on Shabbat. Thus, a hammer can be used to crack nuts on Shabbat and a sack maker’s needle can be used to open a door.
Shabbat 121a-b: Dealing With Scorpions on Shabbat
05/07/2020 - 13th of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna on today’s daf teaches: One may overturn a bowl on top of a lamp so that fire will not take hold in the ceiling beam on Shabbat. And similarly, one may overturn a bowl on top of a child’s feces inside the house so he will not touch it and dirty himself, and on top of a scorpion so that it will not bite. Rabbi Yehuda said: An incident came before Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai in his village of Arav, where a person covered a scorpion on Shabbat, and Rabban Yohanan said: I am concerned that he is liable to bring a sin-offering because he might have violated a Torah prohibition. Rabban Yohanan did not consider the scorpion to have been potentially dangerous, otherwise he would surely have permitted it. He maintained that there was no danger and was uncertain whether or not this falls into the category of the prohibited labor of trapping (Rabbi Elazar Moshe Horowitz).
The Gemara discusses the ruling in the Mishna that one may cover a scorpion with a bowl on Shabbat so that it will not bite. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: All harmful creatures are killed on Shabbat. Rav Yosef raised an objection to this from the following baraita: Five creatures may be killed even on Shabbat, and they are: The poisonous fly that is in the land of Egypt, and the hornet that is in Ninveh, and the scorpion that is in Ĥadyab, and the snake that is in Eretz Yisrael, and a mad dog in any place.
In this context, the hornet is the large hornet also found in Eretz Yisrael, the Vespa orientalis. This hornet lives in families within nests built in the ground. The hornet’s sting causes tremendous pain, even though a single sting is not fatal. There have been many instances in which people and animals have died after being stung by a swarm of hornets. The scorpion mentioned here may be the common yellow scorpion, the Ceiurus guinquestriatas, whose sting is extremely poisonous and life threatening. The fly found in Egypt seems to refer to the gadfly of the Chrysops and Tabanus types that bite people. This bite is quite painful and causes a rash and swelling.
Shabbat 120a-b: Saving Things From a Burning House on Shabbat
04/07/2020 - 12th of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Although an earlier Mishna taught that an individual is permitted to save only three meals worth of food from his burning house, the Mishna on today’s daf teaches that there are cases where more can be saved. According to the Mishna:
One may rescue a basket full of loaves and the like from a fire on Shabbat, even if there is food for one hundred meals in it. And one may rescue a round cake of dried figs, even though it is very large, and one may rescue a barrel full of wine. And one may even say to others: Come and rescue for yourselves. And if the people who rescue with him were clever, they make a calculation with him after Shabbat in order to receive payment for the items that they rescued.
After some discussion, the Gemara concludes that this case is different because there is only a single vessel that is being rescued from the fire; under such circumstances there are no limitations on the amount that can be contained in the vessel. Regarding the invitation to others to come and rescue other things from the burning house, the Jerusalem Talmud explains that since one is permitted to invite guests and feed them and clothe them on Shabbat, one may also invite others to come and rescue food and clothes for themselves as they are potential guests. Some commentaries teach that the others may rescue items in any manner that they choose. Since it is not their property, there is no concern lest they extinguish the fire in their agitation (Rabbi Yeshaya of Terani as cited in the Ran). The Jerusalem Talmud suggests that the novel element in this statement is that if the rescuers return the objects to their owner on Shabbat and did not take ownership of them, they may receive direct payment after Shabbat and not merely take ownership of the ownerless property. This is the Rambam’s interpretation in his Commentary to the Mishna, as well.
Shabbat 119a-b: Shabbat Preparations
03/07/2020 - 11th of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Preparing for Shabbat is an essential ingredient in showing delight in Shabbat. On today’s daf we learn that the Sages went to great lengths to play an active role in those preparations.
Rabbi Abba bought thirteen plain staters [astirei peshitei] worth half a zuz of meat from thirteen butchers in deference to Shabbat, so that he would have various types of fine meat. And he would place the meats at the door hinge at the entrance to his house to hurry to bring another type of meat. And he said to the cooks, in order to rush them: Hurry and prepare it, hurry and prepare it. The Gemara also relates: Rabbi Abbahu would sit on an ivory chair [takhteka] and fan the fire cooking the food for Shabbat, in order to play a role in preparations for Shabbat.
This anecdote teaches that even a wealthy person, like Rabbi Abbahu, should participate in the Shabbat preparations. Indeed, Rabbi Abbahu showed deference to the mitzva by sitting on an expensive ivory chair.
Rav Anan would don a simple black garment for the Shabbat preparations, as the school of Rabbi Yishmael taught: While wearing the garments in which he cooked a pot of food for his master, one should not dilute a cup of wine for his Master. One should wear a garment appropriate for the task at hand.
Apparently, Rav Anan disagrees with Rabbi Abbahu and maintains that one should wear simple, not special, clothing for the preparations of Shabbat, as per the statement of Rabbi Yishmael (Rabbi Elazar Moshe Horovitz).
Rav Safra would roast the head of an animal to prepare it for Shabbat. Rava salted a shibuta fish in deference to Shabbat. Rav Huna kindled lamps in deference to Shabbat. Rav Pappa spun the wicks for the Shabbat lamp. Rav Hisda cut the beets in preparation for Shabbat. Rabba and Rav Yosef cut wood. Rabbi Zeira prepared thin sticks for kindling. Rav Nahman bar Yitzhak would load objects on his shoulder and enter, load objects on his shoulder and exit. He said: If Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Asi happened to visit me, would I not load objects on my shoulder before them? So too, it is fitting to do so in deference to Shabbat.
Shabbat 118a-b: The Reward for Delighting in Shabbat
02/07/2020 - 10th of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara relates -
Rabbi Yohanan said in the name of Rabbi Yosei: With regard to anyone who delights in the Shabbat, God gives him a boundless portion, i.e., a very large reward, as it is stated: “If you keep your feet from violating Shabbat, from pursuing your affairs on My holy day, and you call Shabbat a delight, the Lord’s holy day honored, and you honor it by not going your own way, or attending to your own matters or speaking idle words. Then you shall delight in the Lord and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the world, and to feast on the inheritance of Jacob your father, as the mouth of God has spoken” (Yeshayahu 58:13-14).
The reward for delighting in Shabbat is specifically the portion of Jacob.
Not that of Abraham, about whom it is written, “Rise, walk through the land through its length and its width because I have given it to you” (Bereshit 13:17) i.e., only this land alone in its borders. And not that of Isaac, about whom it is written, “Dwell in this land and I will be with you and I will bless you because I will give all of these lands to you and your offspring” (Bereshit 16:3), meaning these lands and no others. Rather, that of Jacob, about whom it is written, “And your offspring will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and all of the families of the land will be blessed through you and your offspring” (Bereshit 28:14). There are no boundaries for Jacob’s portion.
The reward of a boundless portion is one that is measure for measure. Since one delights in Shabbat without limiting his expenditures, one is rewarded with a portion that is limitless (Beit Yosef). The Gemara citation of the verse from Yeshayahu speaks of one who delights in Shabbat as being rewarded with the portion of Jacob. Some commentaries explain that the portion of Abraham was shared with the descendants of Ishmael and Lot, and part of Isaac’s portion was given to Esau. However, the portion of Jacob was complete, not shared with others, and therefore boundless (Maharsha; Imrei Emet).
Shabbat 117a-b: Shabbat Meals
01/07/2020 - 9th of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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There are many laws that are unique to Shabbat meals. On today’s daf the Gemara discusses the sources of some of those halakhot.
Rav Hisda said: A person should always rise early on Friday in order to prepare all of the expenditures for Shabbat, as it is written with regard to the collection of the manna: “And it shall be on the sixth day, and they will prepare that which they have brought” (Shemot 16:5), indicating that the children of Israel would begin preparing the food for Shabbat immediately upon collecting the manna in the morning.
With the statement, “And it shall be,” the Torah indicates that the people should begin preparations, “they will prepare” (Shemot 16:5), immediately when the day begins. An alternative interpretation is that since they did not collect the manna at night, the Torah teaches that preparations began with its collection in the early hours of the morning (Ritva). Apropos manna, the Gemara mentions other matters derived from it.
Rabbi Abba said: On Shabbat a person is obligated to break bread in his meal over two loaves of bread, as it is written: “And it happened on the sixth day, they collected double the bread, two omer for each one” (Shemot 16:22). Rav Ashi said: I saw that Rav Kahana took two loaves in his hand and broke one, not both at once. He said in explanation that it is written: “They collected double the bread,” meaning that one collects and holds two loaves together, but need not break both. Rabbi Zeira would break off a piece that would suffice for his entire meal. Ravina said to Rav Ashi: Doesn’t that appear like gluttony? Rav Ashi said to him: Since on every other day he does not do this and now he is doing so, it does not appear like gluttony.
Some commentaries explain that Rabbi Zeira would break all of the loaves that he prepared for the meal (Rashba).
Shabbat 116a-b: Holy Books in Babylonian Temples
30/06/2020 - 8th of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The discussion of whether holy books could be saved from a fire on Shabbat leads the Gemara to discuss the status of books found in Babylonian temples.
Yosef bar Ĥanin raised a dilemma before Rabbi Abbahu: With regard to these books of the house of Abidan, does one rescue them from the fire or does one not rescue them? There were sacred Jewish texts in that house, which were used in debates and discussions on matters of faith. Rabbi Abbahu did not give him a clear answer but said yes and no, and the matter was uncertain to him. Rav would not go to the house of Abidan for conversation, and all the more so he would not go to the house of Nitzrefei, the Persian fire-temple. Shmuel, to the house of Nitzrefei he did not go, but to the house of Abidan he did go. The gentile scholars said to Rava: Why did you not come to the house of Abidan? He evaded their question with an excuse and said to them: There is a certain palm tree on the road, and that makes the path difficult for me. They said to him: We will uproot it. He said to them: Nevertheless, the resulting pit in its place will be difficult for me. Mar bar Yosef said: I am one of them, we are friends, and I do not fear them. Still, one time he went and argued with them and they sought to endanger his life. Rabbi Meir would call the Christian writing, the Evangelion, the wicked folio [aven gilyon]; Rabbi Yoĥanan called it the sinful folio [avon gilyon].
According to the tradition of the ge’onim, the house of Abidan was a well-known courtyard in which there were books of knowledge from all the nations. Scholars and wise men from all nations gathered there to discuss wisdom. The house of Nitzrefei served a similar purpose. However, it was also a temple for idol worship. Therefore, it was appropriate for Shmuel to attend meetings and discussions in the house of Abidan, which he considered as a forum for philosophical debates, but he would never enter the house of Nitzrefei, which was devoted to idolatry. There were other Sages who thought that the debates were problematic and dangerous, and it was preferable to refrain from participation in those forums.
Shabbat 115a-b: Dealing With Fires on Shabbat
29/06/2020 - 7th of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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This chapter mainly deals with a single question: How is one to conduct oneself when a fire breaks out on Shabbat? The halakha maintains that it is prohibited to extinguish a fire on Shabbat, even in a situation of great financial loss. Therefore, the question arises: What is permissible to do in the case of a fire? Under what conditions is it permissible to rescue materials from a fire on Shabbat? The decrees instituted by the Sages with reference to rescuing objects from a fire on Shabbat are the source of many of the questions pertaining to this matter. These decrees are based upon the concern that if one is permitted to evacuate his goods, he may, in his panic, perform the kind of extinguishing that is biblically prohibited, both because of his preoccupation with the act of evacuation and because people become panicked when their property is at stake. Therefore, the Sages permitted the rescue of domestic utensils and even foodstuffs in only limited quantities. Additionally, there is discussion of the numerous details related to permissible methods and stratagems that enable the rescue of more than the very minimum fixed by the law. Another question related to rescuing materials from a fire is the problem of sacred writings and other holy objects. Because of their sanctity, the Sages permitted many procedures for rescuing them that may not be performed for other objects. According to many opinions, the Sages went to great extremes to grant permission in this matter, ruling leniently even when there are risks of violating rabbinic prohibitions, and sometimes even biblical prohibitions, because of their great concern for salvaging a wide variety of sacred materials. The opening Mishna teaches:
With regard to all sacred writings, one may rescue them from the fire on Shabbat, whether they are read in public, e.g., Torah or Prophets scrolls, or whether they are not read in public, e.g., Writings scrolls. This ruling applies even though they were written in any foreign language.
In the Jerusalem Talmud it is explained that the halakha is in accordance with Rabbi Shimon’s opinion that, in general, extinguishing a fire is prohibited by rabbinic and not by Torah law. Therefore, it is permitted to douse a fire in order to rescue sacred books.
Shabbat 114a-b: Blowing the Shofar to Announce Shabbat
28/06/2020 - 6th of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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On today’s daf the Gemara discusses the shofar blasts that were sounded on Friday afternoon to warn the populace that Shabbat was soon to arrive. Alternative situations are raised by Rabbi Zeira -
Rabbi Zeira said: When I was in Babylonia, I said with regard to that which was taught in a baraita: If Yom Kippur occurred on Shabbat eve, they would not sound the shofar as they did every Friday to herald the start of Shabbat; and if Yom Kippur occurred at the conclusion of Shabbat, they would not recite havdala to mark the end of the sanctity of Shabbat and the start of the sanctity of Yom Kippur, is a statement accepted by all. When I went to Eretz Yisrael, I found Yehuda, son of Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi, who sat and said: This baraita is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Akiva, as it equates the sanctity of Yom Kippur with that of Shabbat. As, if you say that it is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yishmael, then, since Rabbi Yishmael said that fats from Shabbat are offered on Yom Kippur, let them sound the shofar so that the priests will know that the fats from Shabbat are offered on Yom Kippur and they may begin offering them (Rav Hai Gaon). And I said to him: You cannot prove this from here, because priests are vigilant and can be trusted to know this on their own, and there is no need to sound the shofar.
There are two basic approaches to interpreting the question about blowing the shofar that was raised by Yehudah, son of Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi. In the first approach, Rashi explains that the Gemara is not referring to shofar blasts between Shabbat and Yom Kippur, because the shofar was never sounded at the conclusion of Shabbat. The sounding of the shofar in this context is the one that marks the beginning of Shabbat when Yom Kippur is on Friday. Although there are several difficulties with this approach and the unfolding discussion does not seem to support it, this is the understanding adopted in the Jerusalem Talmud (see Tosafot and Rashba). A second approach states that the Gemara is referring to a situation where Yom Kippur begins at the conclusion of Shabbat. According to these commentaries, the shofar would be sounded at that time, just as it was sounded every week at the conclusion of Shabbat, to divide between the sacred and the profane (Rambam). Other commentaries explain that a special shofar blast was sounded on the eve of Yom Kippur, just like before Shabbat, and that is being discussed here.
Shabbat 113a-b: Changing One’s Everyday Behaviors for Shabbat
27/06/2020 - 5th of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Gemara cites what we learned with regard to the following passage:
If you keep your feet from breaking, from pursuing your affairs on My holy day, and you call Shabbat a delight, the Lord’s holy day honorable, and you honor it by not going your own way, from attending to your affairs and speaking idle words” (Yeshayahu 58:13). The Rabbis derived: - from the words “and you honor it” that your dress on Shabbat should not be like your dress during the week, as Rabbi Yohanan would refer to his clothing as my honor, indicating that appropriate clothing is a form of deference. - from the words “going your own way” mean that your walking on Shabbat should not be like your walking during the week. - “From attending to your affairs” means it is prohibited to deal with your weekday affairs and to speak about them on Shabbat. However, affairs of Heaven, i.e., those pertaining to mitzvot, are permitted. - “And speaking idle words” means that your speech on Shabbat should not be like your speech during the week, i.e., one should not discuss his weekday affairs on Shabbat. However, it is only speech that they said is prohibited, whereas merely contemplating weekday affairs is permitted.
A midrash is cited in Tosafot that is also brought in the Jerusalem Talmud. It states that the Sages prohibited speaking excessively on Shabbat. Some commentaries wrote that people should not exert themselves on Shabbat, even to discuss Torah matters. In the Adderet Eliyahu it is suggested that the Gemara means to say that one should not speak in languages other than Hebrew. This custom was observed by many over the generations. The Gemara discusses how one’s walking should differ on Shabbat from the rest of the week, concluding that pesia gassa – taking large steps – is prohibited. The Hebrew word gassa, which means large in this context, literally means “crass.” People who take large steps on Shabbat create the impression that they are rushing to their business, which is obviously inappropriate on Shabbat. Consequently, the phrase pesia gassa literally means “a crass step.” The Gemara states that taking large steps detracts from one’s vision. Some commentaries interpret the idea of one’s vision returning to him at kiddush to mean that resting on Shabbat heals that which was damaged during the week’s exertions.
Shabbat 112a-b: Tying Knots on Shabbat - II
26/06/2020 - 4th of Tammuz, 5780
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As we learned on yesterday’s daf there is a fundamental principle that one is liable for tying or untying only a permanent knot, i.e., a knot designed to endure. This requirement precludes knots made to be immediately undone as well as knots meant to be undone in the near future. The Mishna teaches:
You have knots for which one is not liable to bring a sin-offering, such as a camel driver’s knot and a sailor’s knot; however, it is nevertheless prohibited to tie them. A woman may tie closed the opening of her robe with straps, as well as the strings of her hairnet and the laces of her girdle, i.e., a wide belt tied with laces. One may also tie the straps of a shoe or a sandal, as well as the spouts of wine or oil jugs.
On today’s daf the Gemara discusses the laws of tying such things as wine or oil jugs, which clearly are not meant to be permanent. The Gemara teaches:
And we learned in the Mishna: It is permitted to tie the spouts of wine or oil jugs.The Gemara says: This is obvious. The Gemara explains: It is only necessary to teach this halakha in a case where it, the jug, has two ears, i.e., two spouts. Lest you say: One of them, he voids it consequently defining the knot on that opening permanent and therefore prohibited, it teaches us that this is not the case.
Jugs were generally made from whole hides taken from different types of animals. These jugs were used for many purposes, and were especially useful for carrying objects and food items. When the jug was used for liquids, such as water, wine or oil, care was taken to remove the animal’s hide intact, and they would not remove the hide of the legs. A spout, usually fashioned from a hollow reed tube, was inserted into one of the legs. This type of jug had only one spout, or ear, in the language of the Talmud. However, if an opening was created where the hide of the leg had been, it becomes a jug with two spouts.
Shabbat 111a-b: Tying Knots on Shabbat - I
25/06/2020 - 3rd of Tammuz, 5780
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The fifteenth perek of Massekhet Shabbat, which begins on today’s daf discusses two distinct topics – tying knots and the prohibition against preparing on Shabbat for the rest of the week. Regarding the first topic - the primary labors of tying and untying knots, the Gemara specifies, explains, and identifies these labors. Tying and untying, as is the case with regard to the labors of building and destroying, constitute a pair of labors for which one is liable for one labor only under the same conditions for which he liable for the other, e.g., one is liable for either tying or untying only if the knot is a permanent one. To understand these labors, it is first necessary to clarify what constitutes a knot. What are the types of knots that the Torah prohibited one to tie or untie on Shabbat? Several traditions were received by the Sages on this matter. They too require analysis and additional clarification. There is a fundamental principle that one is liable for tying or untying only a permanent knot, i.e., a knot designed to endure. This requirement precludes knots made to be immediately undone as well as knots meant to be undone in the near future. The definition of permanence as it pertains to a knot requires further clarification. Does permanence relate to the function of the knot, the method by which the knot was tied, or both? If permanence relates only to the method of tying, it is only necessary to ascertain if a knot was tied in such a manner that it can endure for a long period of time. If so, the person who tied the knot is liable for his action, even if he intended for the knot to be temporary and planned to immediately untie it. During this discussion, many sets of circumstances are described, including various types of knots and various uses of materials. Consideration is given to both knots tied in a common, simple manner and knots tied with utensils or parts of vessels, such as the knots of shoes, sandals, and the like. The central theme of this chapter is the qualifications of a knot for the purposes of both Torah law and rabbinic decree.
Shabbat 110a-b; The Prohibition Against Castration
24/06/2020 - 2nd of Tammuz, 5780
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While discussing medical treatments, the Gemara also discusses the side-effects caused by some treatments that were common in those times.
The Gemara discussed the remedy for jaundice, saying that one should drink two of the ingredients mentioned together with beer, and one becomes sterile from it. The Gemara asks: And is it permitted to cause sterility? Wasn’t it taught in a baraita: From where is it derived that castration of a man is prohibited? The verse states: “Those whose testicles are bruised, or crushed, or torn, or cut, shall not be offered to the Lord, and you shall not do this in your land” (Vayikra 22:24), meaning that you shall not do it to yourselves; this is the statement of Rabbi Hanina. Apparently, it is prohibited to castrate a man. The Gemara answers: This prohibition applies only in a case where one intends to castrate. Here, in the cure for jaundice, the sterility happens on its own, incidental to the treatment. Proof is cited from that which Rabbi Yohanan said: One who seeks to castrate a rooster should remove its comb and it will become castrated on its own. Incidental castration is permitted. The Gemara rejects the proof. Didn’t Rav Ashi say: It is arrogance that it assumes when it has its comb, and when the comb is removed it becomes depressed and no longer procreates. However, it is not actually castrated. Rather, apparently this remedy for jaundice is permitted only for one who is castrated and for whom causing sterility is not a concern.
The verse quoted in the Gemara with regard to an animal with torn or cut testicles is referring to offering blemished animals as sacrifices. In that context, the Torah is referring only to the suitability of damaged animals for the altar. The end of the verse: “And you shall not do this in your land,” teaches that castration in any form is considered a blemish for an animal, and that it is prohibited to castrate an animal. This prohibition applies to all male animals, including those which cannot be offered as sacrifices. However, the Sages infer from the verse that any damage caused to the normal functioning of an animal’s reproductive system, even if caused indirectly, undermines God’s purpose in Creation, as the verse states, “He did not create it for naught; He formed it to be settled” (Yeshayahu 45:18). According to the Rambam, causing infertility in female animals violates a rabbinic prohibition.
Shabbat 109a-b: Medical Treatments in Talmudic Times
23/06/2020 - 1st of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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A good deal of this perek deals with the laws of healing on Shabbat, a realm which is only indirectly related to wounding. It has already been explained in earlier chapters that the Sages prohibited medical treatment on Shabbat, except in life-threatening situations. It was determined that the reason for this prohibition is to prevent the preparation of medicinal substances on Shabbat. Such preparation involves the prohibited labors of grinding and crushing, as well as other Torah prohibitions. Due to this concern, various medical treatments, even many that do not involve the ingestion of medicine, were prohibited. Thus, this chapter specifies and defines various healing procedures. Some are prohibited because they are well-known cures. Others remain permitted because performance of these actions does not necessarily indicate that one is engaging in a healing practice, since perfectly healthy people also engage in these activities. The explanation of this rule, as well as an enumeration of the circumstances under which it applies, is the subject of this chapter. As an example of common medical procedures in Talmudic time, the Gemara relates the following:
One who swallowed a snake should be fed hops in salt, and then he should be made to run a distance of three mil. The Gemara relates: Rav Shimi bar Ashi saw a person who swallowed a snake, and Rav Ashi appeared to that person as a horseman. Rav Shimi fed him hops with salt and made him run in front of him for three mil, and the snake came out of him in pieces. Some say that Rav Shimi bar Ashi was the one who swallowed a snake, and Elijah came and appeared to Rav Ashi as a horseman. He fed him hops with salt and made him run in front of him for three mil, and the snake came out of him in pieces.
Even though it is uncommon, it is not impossible to swallow a small snake. However, the Gemara is most probably referring to swallowing a tapeworm, known as the Taenia, which resembles a snake. The remedies mentioned in the Gemara are effective in killing a tapeworm.
Shabbat 108a-b: A Question About Tefillin Parchment
22/06/2020 - 30th of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The discussion of trapping an animal on Shabbat leads to a discussion of the animal hide parchment used for writing phylacteries. Among the topics presented is the following:
And this question was asked by a Boethusian to Rabbi Yehoshua HaGarsi: From where is it derived that one may not write phylacteries on the hide of a non-kosher animal? He said to him, it is as it is written: “So that God’s Torah will be in your mouth.” The Rabbis derived that one may write the passages only on an item that is permitted to be placed in one’s mouth, i.e., eaten. He said to him: If that is so, on the skin of neveilot and tereifot coming from kosher animals, one should not write phylacteries, as they may not be eaten. He said to him: I will tell you a parable. To what is this similar? To two people who were sentenced to death by the king. One was killed by the king himself, and one was killed by an executioner [ispaklitor]. Which one is more praiseworthy? You must say: The one that the king himself killed. Therefore, an animal that died at the hands of Heaven and not by a human action is superior. He said to him: If so, then the neveilot and tereifot should be eaten, as they were killed by the king. He said to him: The Torah said: “Do not eat any neveila” (Devarim 14:21) and you say they should be eaten? A Torah decree determines that they may not be eaten, but that does not mean they are inferior. The Boethusian said to him: Well put [kalos].
The Boethusians were a sect similar to the Sadducees, who rejected the authority and customs of the Sages. According to the Talmud, this sect was named after its founder, Boethus. The exact differences between this sect and the Sadducees are unknown because the terms are used interchangeably in some sources. Apparently, the Boethusians followed the Written Torah based on their own interpretations, e.g., they always celebrated the festival of Shavuot on Sunday. Nevertheless, they may have been similar to the Pharisees in their basic outlook.
Shabbat 107a-b: Identifying the Eight Creeping Animals Mentioned in the Torah
21/06/2020 - 29th of Sivan, 5780
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The fourteenth perek of Massekhet Shabbat deals with two subjects that are only minimally related to each other. It begins with a continuation of the discussion of the laws of trapping, which began in the previous chapter. Slaughtering is enumerated in the list of thirty-nine categories of primary labor after trapping. This primary category of slaughtering includes two major subcategories, wounding and killing. In order to advance the discussion and to specify the animals for which the prohibition to take a life applies, it is necessary to determine what is considered a living creature. Clarification of the primary labor of wounding is even more complex. The term wounding as it is used in the Torah denotes shedding blood, whether by causing blood to flow out of the organism or by causing blood contained in the blood vessels to be displaced and accumulate underneath the skin, as in the case of a bruise. This definition necessitates the making of various distinctions pertaining to the laws of wounding on Shabbat. For example, is the skin of all living organisms considered skin in this regard, in which case one who causes any animal an internal wound is liable? Or perhaps there are creatures whose skin is not considered skin for these purposes.
The Mishna teaches: With regard to any of the eight creeping animals mentioned in the Torah, one who traps them or wounds them on Shabbat is liable.
The Torah states: “The following shall be impure for you among the creeping animals that swarm upon the earth: The weasel, and the mouse, and the dab lizard of every variety; and the gecko, and the land-crocodile, and the lizard, and the skink, and the chameleon” (Vayikra 11:29-30). In truth, there is no clear oral tradition with regard to the identity of the eight creeping animals listed in the Torah. Therefore, determining their identity involves educated conjecture. Even commonly accepted identifications, such as the dab lizard [tzav] and the mouse [akhbar], are subject to debate. In addition, the Talmud’s description of the skins of these animals is insufficient to provide definitive identifications.
Shabbat 106a-b: Primary Categories of Labor Not Needed for Their Own Sake
20/06/2020 - 28th of Sivan, 5780
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Generally speaking, a prohibited action on Shabbat is only forbidden if it is done for a constructive purpose. We learned in the Mishna: And anyone who performs labors destructively on Shabbat is exempt.
Rabbi Abbahu taught this baraita before Rabbi Yohanan: Anyone who performs labors destructively on Shabbat is exempt, except for one who inflicts a wound or kindles a fire. Rabbi Yohanan said to him: Go teach that outside. This baraita is not fit for discussion in the study hall. The opinion that deems one liable for inflicting a wound or kindling a fire on Shabbat is not an accepted teaching and should be ignored. And if you want to say that it is a legitimate teaching, one who inflicts a wound would only be liable in a case where he needed the blood to give to his dog, and one who kindles a fire would only be liable in a case where he needs its ashes.
This brief passage is pivotal in the comprehensive discussion among the commentaries and legal authorities with regard to the law of melakha she-ainah tzrikha le-gufa – primary categories of labor not needed for their own sake, i.e., their purpose in the Tabernacle. For example, extinguishing a fire to conserve fuel, rather than to produce coals (the purpose for which "extinguishing" was performed in the Sanctuary) is considered melakha that is not necessary for its own sake. According to other opinions, melakha that is not necessary for its own sake means work performed for a "negative" purpose; in the previous case, for example, extinguishing a fire to avoid using the fuel, rather than to create something new (i.e., coals). There is a controversy among the tannaim as well as among later halakhic authorities as to whether melakha that is not necessary for its own sake is prohibited by Torah law or only by rabbinic injunction. The Me’iri summarizes the issue as follows: If one performs a primary category of labor in its standard, constructive manner it is an act needed for its own sake. An example of this would be the primary category of winnowing. Even though the main goal is to remove the chaff, it is still considered a primary category of labor needed for its own sake.
Shabbat 105a-b: Weaving and Related Categories of Labor
19/06/2020 - 27th of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The thirteenth perek of Massekhet Shabbat that begins on today’s daf discusses two groups of primary categories of labor [avot melakhot]. One section of the chapter deals with the primary category of weaving and related categories of labor. All activities involved in the production of clothing from the spinning of the thread until the final utilization of the yarn; the arrangement of the loom; the weaving itself; and all other improvements made to the fabric, such as dyeing and cleansing it, can be combined by their very nature into one group of categories of labor. They are therefore treated in this chapter as if they were one unit. The main topic of this chapter is not the description of the nature or parameters of these various labor categories. Rather, it is the establishment of minimal measures for which one is liable should he perform any of these types of labor on Shabbat. The other section of this chapter deals with the category of trapping, specifically the definition of this category of labor and its parameters. The category of trapping is defined as the confinement of an animal within a space from which it cannot escape. First, however, it must be determined whether or not this prohibition applies to all animals, at which stage in the confinement process the trapping may be said to have been performed, and which methods of confinement may be considered typical modes of trapping for the various species of animals. The discussion of weaving deals extensively with details of looms that were used in Talmudic times. Among the laws that appear in the first Mishna is the ruling that:
One who makes two meshes, attaching them to either the nirin or the keiros, is liable. The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of to the nirin? Abayye said: One ties two to the meshes, the thread of the warp, and ties one to the crosspiece, the thread that extends from the weaving rod.
The threads of the warp, the meshes, are tied to the loom, and the weaving of the fabric begins from those two meshes.
Shabbat 104a-b: The Significance of the Hebrew Alphabet
18/06/2020 - 26th of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In the course of discussing the prohibition against writing on Shabbat the Gemara quotes a lengthy interpretation of the letters of the alphabet as presented by children who visited the study hall. Here are samples of the children’s teachings:
The Sages said to Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi: Young students came today to the study hall and said things the likes of which were not said even in the days of Yehoshua bin Nun. These children who only knew the Hebrew alphabet interpreted the letters homiletically. Alef beit means learn [elaf] the wisdom [bina] of the Torah. Gimmel dalet means give to the poor [gemol dalim]. Why is the leg of the gimmel extended toward the dalet? Because it is the manner of one who bestows loving-kindness to pursue the poor. And why is the leg of the dalet extended toward the gimmel? It is so that a poor person will make himself available to him who wants to give him charity. And why does the dalet face away from the gimmel? It is to teach that one should give charity discreetly so that the poor person will not be embarrassed by him.
The details of the shapes of the Hebrew letters gimmel and dalet mentioned by the Gemara in its midrashim are clearly apparent in the script that is used for Torah scrolls, mezuzot,and tefillin [ketav stam]. The Gemara continues with other examples of the children’s interpretation, including:
Kuf: Holy [kadosh], referring to God. Reish: A wicked person [rasha]. Why is the kuf facing away from the reish? This question was phrased euphemistically, as it is the reish that is facing away from the kuf. The Holy One, Blessed be He, said: I am unable look at a wicked person, i.e., the wicked person does not want to look toward God. And why is the crown of the letter kuf turned toward the reish? The Holy One, Blessed be He, said: If the wicked person repents his evil ways I will tie a crown for him like My own. And why is the leg of the kuf suspended and not connected to the roof of the letter? Because if the wicked person repents he can enter through this opening if he so desires.
Shabbat 103a-b: Writing and Marking
17/06/2020 - 25th of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In the Mishna on today’s daf we learn:
One who writes two letters on Shabbat, whether he did so with his right hand or his left , whether they were the same letter or two different letters, whether he did so using two different types of ink, in any language, he is liable. Rabbi Yose said: One is deemed liable for writing two letters only due to marking, as they would write symbols on adjacent beams of the Tabernacle to know which beam was another beam’s counterpart.
In the Gemara a baraita is quoted that continues presenting Rabbi Yose’s position, explaining that: Therefore, one who made a single scratch on two boards, or two scratches on a single board, is liable. In the Jerusalem Talmud there is an extended discussion of this topic where it is explained that these marks were made to indicate the designated place of each beam in the Tabernacle. Even though all the beams were of equal size, it was not appropriate to align them randomly. It is also explained there that according to Rabbi Yose they would draw diagonal lines on the two beams, which were aligned when the beams were placed together. According to the Rambam, the halakhic difference between writing and marking is a technical one – Rabbi Yose enumerates marking as an independent primary category of labor, and says that one who makes two marks is liable for violating a primary category of labor. Others explain that if the prohibition itself is marking, then one would be liable even when no actual letters are written (Me’iri). As far as halakha is concerned, basing himself on the Mishna the Rambam rules that one who writes two letters on Shabbat is liable whether they are two different letters, or the same letter written twice intentionally, or two letters written in any language or script, or written in two different types of ink or paint (Sefer Zemanim, Hilkhot Shabbat 11:9–10). One who creates two marks, shapes or signs on Shabbat is liable for writing even if the characters are not letters (Hilkhot Shabbat 11:17).
Shabbat 102a-b: Building That is Prohibited on Shabbat
16/06/2020 - 24th of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The twelfth perek of Massekhet Shabbat, which begins on today’s daf discusses and clarifies several of the thirty-nine categories of labor prohibited on Shabbat. It concentrates on three categories of labor: Building, plowing, and writing. The categories of building and plowing were partially addressed in Chapter Seven. Our chapter mainly discusses two questions concerning these categories of labor. First, what are some of the common subcategories [toladot] of these primary categories [avot], i.e., what are some specific activities included within the comprehensive definitions of the primary categories building and plowing? The definitions of these primary categories can be formulated in various ways, narrowly and precisely, or much more generally. They are comprised of many details, and the kinds of activities included within the parameters of each primary category must be clarified. The second question in the chapter is how should the minimum measures that determine liability to bring this sin-offering, as defined by the Torah, be ascertained? With regard to the category of writing, there are additional problems: Is it necessary to specify the typical manner of writing, i.e., what form and what method constitute the creative act known as writing? Additionally, how do we determine the minimum act that can be considered writing? And, furthermore, does the definition of writing include any symbol or design, or is it limited to the reproduction of letters of the alphabet or other specific figures? And are all writing materials and methods of writing treated equally with reference to liability for performing this category of labor on Shabbat? The opening Mishna lists specific activities that all fall under the category of “building” on Shabbat and the Gemara searches for the corresponding activity that took place in the Tabernacle that serves as the source for the prohibition. In the Jerusalem Talmud a different approach to this issue is taken. There, the Gemara attempts to find the source for the primary category of building in the Tabernacle, rather than define the measure that determines liability for building. This is based on the fact that all of the measures are learned through tradition. According to what is stated in the Jerusalem Talmud, the building activity in the Tabernacle was the establishment of the beams. The problem is that the construction was temporary, which means it is less than ideal as the source for the primary category of labor. It is possible that this is the reason that in the Babylonian Talmud the Tabernacle’s construction is not cited as the source for the primary category of building.
Shabbat 101a-b: Transferring Between Two Boats
15/06/2020 - 23th of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna on yesterday’s daf discusses transferring objects between two boats on Shabbat. The Mishna taught:
If boats are tied together, one may carry an object from one to the other on Shabbat.
On today’s daf the Gemara asks:
That is obvious, since these boats are like a single domain. Rava said: This Mishna was necessary only to permit carrying from one boat to another via a small boat that is between them. Rav Safra said to him: You, who are as great in this generation as Moses, did you speak well? We learned in the Mishna that one may carry only from one to the other, not via a small boat. Rather, Rav Safra said: The Mishna was only necessary to obligate one to place an eiruv, a joining of courtyards, between the two boats. Since the boats belong to different people, they must be joined to form a single domain in order to permit carrying from one to the other, as it was taught in a baraita: With regard to boats tied to one another, one places an eiruv and carries from one to the other. If the ties between them were severed, the people on the boats are prohibited to carry from one to the other. If they were then retied, whether unwittingly, i.e., the one who retied them forgot that it was Shabbat, whether intentionally, whether due to circumstances beyond one’s control, whether mistakenly, the boats are restored to their original permitted status.
The expression “Moses, did you speak well” appears several times in the Talmud. Rashi sometimes explains it as a reference to a prominent leader of the generation or a Torah scholar. Other times, he explains it as an exclamation by which one takes an oath in the name of Moses. Some explain that here the phrase is not an expression of wonder, but rather an expression of support meaning that Rav Safra agreed with Rava’s basic halakha. Yet he still commented that an analysis of the language of the Mishna indicates otherwise (Me’iri).
Shabbat 100a-b: Transferring to and From a Boat
14/06/2020 - 22th of Sivan, 5780
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 today’s daf discusses the laws of transferring objects on and off a boat on Shabbat.
It was stated that the Sages disagreed with regard to the manner in which one may draw seawater onto a boat on Shabbat. Rav Huna said: One extends a projection of any size from the side of the boat as a distinctive sign, and fills a receptacle with water from the sea. Rav Hisda and Rabba bar Rav Huna say: One creates an area, a frame of four by four handbreadths, and fills the water from inside it.
The Gemara explains that the source of this disagreement is whether we measure from the sea floor or from the water. According to Rav Huna, we measure from the sea floor. Since the sea itself is deeper than ten handbreadths, the boat is considered to be floating in the air, and the air is an “exempt domain,” so transfer is permitted. According to Rav Hisda and Rabba bar Rav Huna we measure from the water and the water in the sea has a legal status of solid land. Therefore, if one does not create an area of four by four, he will be carrying from the sea (a karmelit) to the private domain. The early commentaries on the Talmud discussed this halakha and expressed several opinions on the matter. According to the Rambam, there is no need for partitions. It is sufficient to extend a beam that is four by four handbreadths with a hole carved in it. Rashi requires that the beam must have small partitions. This opinion is shared by the ge’onim based on the opinions of most of the amora’im in the Jerusalem Talmud. Some explain that this requires a beam that is four by four cubits with a hole in it that is four by four handbreadths (Rabbeinu Tam cited in the Rashba). Some commentaries even assert that the legal status of the area in the boat from which water is drawn to the boat is like that of a partition hanging from a balcony. The partitions surrounding that area must be ten handbreadths high (Me’iri).
Shabbat 99a-b: Carrying the Beams of the Tabernacle
13/06/2020 - 21th of Sivan, 5780
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 laws of Shabbat are derived from the various activities of the Tabernacle. The source for the laws of transporting from one domain to another is the case of loading the beams of the Tabernacle on wagons when the Children of Israel had to move. We learned in the Mishna (daf, 96a) that:
If there are two balconies [gezuztra’ot] that are private domains opposite each other on either side of the public domain, one who passesor throws an object from the one on this side to the one on that side is exempt. However, if the balconies were on the same level on the same side of the public thoroughfare, and the public domain separated the two, one who passes from one to the other is liable, and one who throws is exempt, as that method, passing, was the service of the Levites who carried the beams of the Tabernacle.
The Gemara on today’s daf discusses the service of the Levites carrying the beams by means of special wagons built for this purpose.
Rava said: The area on the sides of the wagon between the wagon and the wheel and the thickness of the wheel together equaled the full width of the wagon (Tosafot). And how much was the width of the wagon? It was two and a half cubits. The Gemara asks: Why do I need the wagon to be two and a half cubits wide? A cubit and a half would suffice. The Gemara answers: So that the beams would not teeter. Ten-cubit beams on a one-and-a-half-cubit wide surface would be unstable.
Each wagon, i.e., the frame on which the beams were placed, was two and a half cubits wide, and its wheel mechanism was two and a half cubits wide on either side. According to these measurements, each wagon took up a space of seven and a half cubits in width, and two wagons side by side, according to the opinion that beams were laid across two wagons, were, therefore, fifteen cubits in width. There was an additional cubit for the Levite who accompanied the wagon. According to most of the commentaries, the wagons traveled two abreast, with some beams supported by both wagons. This is not at all similar to the halakha of two balconies. In that case liability is incurred only when passing from one balcony to another along the length of the public domain and not across its width. According to Rav Hai Gaon, there is no real difference between the length and width of the public domain. Rather, the halakha is derived from the Levites’ wagons. Wherever there are two private domains capable of being aligned on a single level, as in the case of the Levites’ wagons, the halakha prohibiting passing applies. On the other hand, the Rashba states: Since there is no way to join two balconies on either side of a public domain, the halakha prohibiting passing does not apply. The Me’iri explains that in order to expedite the process of loading the wagons, the Levites passed the beams from one wagon to another that was positioned behind it, similar to the case of balconies on the same side of the public domain.
Shabbat 98a-b: The Beams of the Tabernacle
12/06/2020 - 20th of Sivan, 5780
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The laws of Shabbat are derived from the various activities of the Tabernacle. The source for the laws of transporting from one domain to another is the case of loading the beams of the Tabernacle on wagons when it was time for the Children of Israel to move in the desert. This discussion leads to an examination of the beams themselves and their arrangement.
The Sages taught: The Tabernacle beams were one cubit thick at the bottom, and they narrowed to a fingerbreadth as they reached the top, as it is stated: “And they shall match at the bottom, and together they will be ended [tamim] at the top toward a single ring; so shall it be for them both, they shall form the two corners” (Shemot 26:24). And below, when the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River, it says: “And those who went down toward the Sea of Arava at the Dead Sea came to an end [tamu]” (Yehoshua 3:16). Tam means finished or terminated. Here, too, the beams narrowed as they reached the top until they were virtually terminated; this is the statement of Rabbi Yehuda. Rabbi Neĥemya says: Just as they were one cubit thick at the bottom, so too, they were one cubit thick at the top, as it is stated: “Together.” The Gemara asks: Isn’t it written: Tamim? The Gemara answers: Rabbi Neĥemya explains that this word teaches that they should bring whole beams and they should not bring planks and attach them. The Gemara asks: And according to the other opinion, Rabbi Yehuda’s opinion, isn’t it written: “Together”? The Gemara answers: That comes to teach that they should not be positioned askew from each other; rather, they should be perfectly aligned. The Gemara asks further: Granted, according to the one who said: Just as they were one cubit thick at the bottom, so too, they were one cubit thick at the top, it is understandable why it is written: “And for the back of the Tabernacle westward you shall make six beams. And you shall make two beams for the corners of the Tabernacle in the back” (Shemot 26:22-23). This means that the width of these beams comes and covers the remaining thickness of those. However, according to the one who said that they were one cubit thick at the bottom and they narrowed to a fingerbreadth as they reached the top, they would not be perfectly aligned, as at the corners this beam goes in and this beam goes out. Part of the beam would protrude out of the Tabernacle. The Gemara answers that it was not only the thickness of the beam that narrowed. One pared the width of the beams as well so they were sloped like mountains and did not protrude.
According to Rabbi Neĥemya, the beams were of equal width for their entire length. When they were then arranged along the length and width of the Tabernacle, two open spaces were created, one at each corner, where additional beams were inserted. According to Rabbi Yehuda, who says that the beams narrowed, there also remained an open space in the corners of the Tabernacle between the length and the width of the structure. It was necessary to insert a specially crafted beam that was slanted on two sides, marked in red, to fill the opening. According to the Me’iri, the initial assumption was that all of the beams were sloped on both ends. Therefore, it would have been difficult to place an additional beam that would leave the corners of the Tabernacle evenly closed on all sides. The answer of the Gemara is that the beams were sloped like a mountain, i.e., sloped on only one side.
Shabbat 97a-b: The Sin of the Wood Gatherer
11/06/2020 - 19th of Sivan, 5780
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
While discussing the laws of carrying out on Shabbat, Rav Yehuda quotes Rav as identifying the sin of the mekoshesh eitzim – the wood gatherer in the desert – as carrying the wood. The Gemara continues by quoting a baraita:
The wood gatherer mentioned in the Torah was Zelophehad, and it says: “And the children of Israel were in the desert and they found a man gathering wood on the day of Shabbat” (Bamidbar 15:32), and below, in the appeal of the daughters of Zelophehad, it is stated: “Our father died in the desert and he was not among the company of them that gathered themselves together against the Lord in the company of Korah, but he died in his own sin, and he had no sons” (Bamidbar 27:3). Just as below the man in the desert is Zelophehad, so too, here, in the case of the wood gatherer, the unnamed man in the desert is Zelophehad; this is the statement of Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira said to him: Akiva, in either case you will be judged in the future for this teaching. If the truth is in accordance with your statement that the wood gatherer was Zelophehad, the Torah concealed his identity, and you reveal it. And if it the truth is not in accordance with your statement, you are unjustly slandering that righteous man.
On today’s daf the Gemara asks:
However, didn’t Rabbi Akiva derive this by means of a verbal analogy? The Gemara answers: he did not learn a verbal analogy. Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira had no tradition of this verbal analogy from his teachers, and therefore he disagreed with Rabbi Akiva’s conclusion.
Rabbeinu Hananel explained this passage differently: Rabbi Akiva did not actually learn this verbal analogy from his teachers. He arrived at it on his own. Since the tradition was not transmitted by previous generations, Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira did not accept it. This explanation resolves several difficulties raised by other commentaries.
Shabbat 96a-b: Throwing From One Domain to Another
10/06/2020 - 18th of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Although previous chapters of tractate Shabbat dealt with the laws of carrying out, the discussion is completed in Chapter 11, which begins on today’s daf, not only with regard to details but also with regard to many fundamental questions. Until this point, two aspects of carrying out were distinguished: Carrying out an object from one domain to another, and transporting an object more than four cubits in the public domain. In this chapter, an additional group of halakhot is discussed: The laws of throwing and extending an object from one domain to another via an intervening domain. Although the laws of throwing and extending are closely related to other details of carrying out, they nevertheless have a certain unique quality. A biblical decree [gezeirat hakatuv] distinguishes between throwing and extending, on the one hand, and the more common methods of carrying out, on the other. This distinction carries with it some implications that are lenient and others that are stringent. There is another question that is intrinsic to the very essence of throwing. While transporting an object is an action that is continuous over a period of time, throwing is one instantaneous act. The labor category of carrying out is contingent upon the transportation of an object from one point to another, based on lifting up [akira] and placing down [hanaha]. As a result, questions arise with regard to the connection between the act of throwing and the landing of the object in its place. Additionally, it is necessary to determine the extent to which the intention of the thrower is significant at each point in the flight of the object. In the course of the clarification of these particularly unique halakhot, an explication of basic principles is reached. A fundamental scriptural basis for all of the laws of carrying out is discovered, the underlying foundations of which are the flags in the wilderness, the configuration of the children of Israel as they made their way through the desert, and the method by which they transported the utensils of the Tabernacle and its walls. Based on this underlying foundation, it then becomes necessary to determine what can be derived from the biblical verses, which conclusions can be reached using a logical approach, and which matters we must accept on the basis of the traditions of the Oral Law.
Shabbat 95a-b: Milking on Shabbat
09/06/2020 - 17th of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The activity of milking a farm animal on Shabbat was assumed to be forbidden, but the Gemara searches for the source for that prohibition.
The Gemara relates: Rav Nahman bar Gurya happened to come to Neharde’a. The students asked him: For what prohibited labor is one who milks liable? He said to them: For milking. For what prohibited labor is one who sets milk to curdle liable? He said to them: For setting milk to curdle. For what is a person who makes cheese liable? He said to them: For making cheese. They said to him: Your teacher was a reed cutter in a swamp who did not know how to explain the Mishna to his students. He came and asked those questions in the study hall. They said to him: One who milks is liable for performing the prohibited labor of extracting, which is a subcategory of threshing, on Shabbat. This is because when one extracts milk from a cow it is similar to the act of threshing, where one removes the desired content from its covering. One who sets milk is liable for the prohibited labor of selecting because part of the milk is separated and made into congealed milk. One who makes cheese is liable for building because the cheese within the milk assumes a solid form, which is similar to the process of building.
Regarding the action of milking, even though extracting is not itself a primary category of labor, the Gemara explains the prohibition of milking in terms of extracting. It does not say that one who milks is liable due to threshing because they are completely different. In contrast, milking and extracting are similar (Adderet Eliyahu). Many commentaries found the categorization of milking under the rubric of the primary category of threshing difficult, as most authorities hold that the prohibition of threshing applies only to plants (see Tosafot). Some explained that milking is prohibited by Torah law according to Rabbi Yehuda. However, the halakha is that it is prohibited only by rabbinic decree (Rashba). Others explained that the extracting mentioned with regard to milking on Shabbat is a subcategory of smoothing, not threshing (Rabbeinu Tam in Sefer HaYashar). Yet other commentaries ruled that since, in certain respects, an animal is considered an item that grows in the ground, milking indeed falls under the rubric of threshing (Ge’onim, Sefer HaHashlama). Farm animals that must be milked on Shabbat present a challenge in the modern world that religious kibbutzim have dealt with in a variety of different ways.
Shabbat 94a-b: Carrying a Person on Shabbat
08/06/2020 - 16th of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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According to the Mishna on yesterday’s daf, someone who carries out a living person on a bed is exempt even for carrying out the bed, since the bed is secondary to the person. If, however, he carried out a corpse on a bed he would be liable for carrying on Shabbat. The Gemara on today’s daf discusses why the individual who carries a living person is not liable. While the Gemara at first suggests that this is an individual opinion, with which the majority of the Sages disagree, ultimately Rava concludes that the disagreement is only about animals. Regarding animals the Sages believe that the animal deadens its weight in an attempt to free itself, but regarding people all agree that “a live person carries himself.” Therefore, one who carries a live person out is exempt according to all opinions. Tosafot find this halakha difficult and concluded that one who carries a living being is exempt, not because a living being carries itself while others are carrying it, but because it moves independently and is not typically carried. Since in the construction of the Tabernacle no living beings were carried, the prohibition of carrying out on Shabbat does not apply to living beings. The Tiferet Yisrael offers an alternative explanation, based on the teaching that we learned on yesterday’s daf. Perhaps one who carries a living being is exempt because the case falls under the rubric of “this person is capable, and this person is capable,” a case in which both are exempt. Even though, practically speaking, the living being that is being carried is not capable of “carrying himself” while being carried, given that he is neither bound nor ill, and theoretically he is capable of walking, it is as if both the living being and his carrier are participating in performance of the action.
Shabbat 93a-b: Joining With Another in an Activity Prohibited on Shabbat
07/06/2020 - 15th of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
When two people join together to perform a prohibited act on Shabbat, according to Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Shimon, neither of them will be held liable. If, however, one of them could have performed that act entirely on his own, there is an element of liability. The Gemara discusses this ruling on today’s daf.
We learned earlier that the Master said: In a case where this person is capable, and this person is incapable, and they performed it together, everyone agrees that he is liable. The Gemara seeks to clarify: Which of them is liable? Rav Hisda said: The one who is capable of performing the act alone is liable, as if it was the one who is incapable of performing the act alone that was liable, what is he doing that would render him liable? His efforts are inadequate to perform the task. Rav Hamnuna said to Rav Hisda: He is doing quite a bit, as he is assisting him. He said to him: The assistance provided by one who assists another to perform a task that the other could have performed himself is insubstantial.
The Gemara’s question is difficult to understand. What reason could there be to deem the one who was incapable liable, and the one who is capable exempt? Tosafot restricts the Gemara’s question to whether or not the one who was incapable is as liable as one who assisted in the performance of the prohibition. The Rashba explains the Gemara differently. According to Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Shimon, in a situation where both are capable of performing the act, both are exempt if they perform it together. The reason that they are exempt is because neither one is expending his full effort in its performance. Consequently, in a situation where one is capable and one is not, the one who is capable does not expend his full effort, and therefore he is exempt. In contrast, the one who is incapable would be liable because he is expending his full effort. From the perspective of the one who is incapable, this is tantamount to a case in which both people are incapable and liable.