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

Berakhot 28a-b: Who Escorts Us to the Next World?
31/01/2020 - 5th of Sh'vat, 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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At the moment of death, who escorts us to the next world? The Gemara on today's daf relates that when on his deathbed, Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai was visited by his students who asked him why he was crying and ultimately to be blessed by him. He responded by telling them that he was unsure whether he would be led to Gan Eden or to Gehinom, and that they should fear God as much as they fear man. After some discussion of these matters, the Gemara relates his final concerns:
At the time of his death, immediately beforehand, he said to them: Remove the vessels from the house and take them outside due to the ritual impurity that will be imparted by my corpse, which they would otherwise contract. And prepare a chair for Hezekiah, the King of Judea, who is coming from the upper world to accompany me.
Some say that it was specifically Hezekiah who appeared to Rabban Yoĥanan because he was one of his descendants (Rav Sa'adia Ga'on). Others say that Hezekiah appeared because Rabban Yoĥanan, like Hezekiah before him, brought about an increase in the Torah study among the Jews (see Mishlei 25:1). This may also be interpreted symbolically. Hezekiah, as the representative of the royal House of David, was declaring that there is no anger over the fact that Rabbi Yoĥanan filled the position of Nasi in place of the descendants of Beit Hillel who were descendants of the House of David. It was also an allusion to the fact that the position of Nasi, the throne represented by the chair, would be restored to a descendant of the House of David, Rabban Gamliel (Tziyyun Le-Nefesh Ḥayya). Rav Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog interprets the appearance of King Hezekiah as a message that although Hezekiah did not surrender when Assyria laid siege to Jerusalem, he approved of Rabban Yo%hanan's concessions to Roman rule as timely, and that is why he came to accompany him.
Berakhot 27a-b: Halakhic Battles in the Study Hall
30/01/2020 - 4th of Sh'vat, 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 whether the evening service is obligatory or optional, the Gemara relates the following story:
The Sages taught: There was an incident involving a student, who came before Rabbi Yehoshua. The student said to him: Is the evening prayer optional or obligatory? Rabbi Yehoshua said to him: Optional.The same student came before Rabban Gamliel and said to him: Is the evening prayer optional or obligatory? Rabban Gamliel said to him: Obligatory.The student said to Rabban Gamliel: But didn’t Rabbi Yehoshua tell me that the evening prayer is optional? Rabban Gamliel said to the student: Wait until the ba'alei terisin - "the masters of the shields,” a reference to the Torah scholars who battle in the war of Torah, enter the study hall, at which point we will discuss this issue.When the ba'alei terisin entered, the questioner stood before everyone present and asked: Is the evening prayer optional or obligatory?Rabban Gamliel said to him: Obligatory. In order to ascertain whether or not Rabbi Yehoshua still maintained his opinion, Rabban Gamliel said to the Sages: Is there any person who disputes this matter?Rabbi Yehoshua said to him: No, no one disagrees. In deference to the Nasi, he did not wish to argue with him publicly (Tziyyun Le-Nefesh Ĥayya). Rabban Gamliel said to Rabbi Yehoshua: But was it not in your name that they told me that the evening prayer is optional?Rabban Gamliel said to Rabbi Yehoshua: Yehoshua, stand on your feet and they will testify against you. Rabbi Yehoshua stood on his feet and said: If I were alive and the student were dead, the living can contradict the dead, and I could deny issuing that ruling. Now that I am alive and he is alive, how can the living contradict the living? I have no choice but to admit that I said it. In the meantime, Rabban Gamliel, as the Nasi, was sitting and lecturing, and Rabbi Yehoshua all the while was standing on his feet, because Rabban Gamliel did not instruct him to sit. He remained standing in deference to the Nasi. This continued for some time, until it aroused great resentment against Rabban Gamliel, and all of the people assembled began murmuring and said to Ĥutzpit the disseminator: Stop conveying Rabban Gamliel’s lecture. And he stopped.
While Rashi interprets ba'alei terisin as the scholars who debate one another in the "battle of Torah," the Arukh offers the more literal definition of "shield bearers," that is, soldiers or police officers who were appointed by the government to support the Jewish leadership. In this story, as well as similar ones that appear in other places in the Talmud, we see that Rabban Gamliel desired to establish Yavneh as the central address for singular leadership and law in the post-Temple era. In his disagreements with Rabbi Yehoshua – one of Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai's closest students – he aims to clarify and establish his halakhic decisions as binding.
Berakhot 26a-b: The Source of the Amida Prayer
29/01/2020 - 3rd of Sh'vat, 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 primary focus of the fourth chapter of Massekhet Berakhot, which begins on today's daf is the Amida prayer, also called Shemoneh Esreh (Eighteen), which was the number of blessings originally instituted in the weekday prayer. It is recited on weekdays, on Shabbat, and on Festivals. The fundamental question is: What is the source of the Amida prayer? Is it tied to Shema, the course of a person’s daily life, the days that turn into night and vice-versa? Or is the primary element its connection to the sacred service performed in the Temple, serving as a substitute form of worship since its destruction? This dilemma, manifest in the dispute amongst the Sages whether prayer was instituted by the Patriarchs or established parallel to the daily offerings in the Temple, touches upon the different characteristics of prayer and serves as a basis for the halakhic questions discussed in this chapter. Clearly, there is a consensus that beyond the essential obligation to pray, the source of which was subject to dispute, the various prayers must be recited at fixed times. It is, then, necessary to ascertain the parameters of those times: When is the earliest and latest time that each prayer can be recited? This is relevant to the morning prayer, which is parallel to the daily offering sacrificed early in the morning when the Temple stood, and to the afternoon prayer, which is parallel to the daily offering sacrificed in the afternoon. Some explain the idea that "prayers were instituted based on the daily offerings" to mean that prayerswere instituted by the Sages after the destruction of the Temple to replace the offerings. However, these prayers were already extant throughout the Second Temple era with virtually the same formula that was instituted later, with certain known differences. Furthermore, there were already synagogues at that time, some even in close proximity to the Temple. The dispute in this case is whether the prayers were instituted to parallel the offerings, or whether the prayers have an independent source, unrelated to the Temple Service.
Berakhot 25a-b: Of Chamber Pots and Prayer
28/01/2020 - 2nd of Sh'vat, 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 easily understood that praying in the vicinity of filth or excrement is inappropriate, the Gemara on today's daf teaches that a chamber pot is always considered to be disgusting, even if it is clean.
The Sages taught: Opposite a chamber pot used for excrement or urine, it is prohibited to recite Shema, even if there is nothing in it, as it is always considered filthy.
In light of this ruling the Gemara discusses what can be done to avoid the problem of reciting the Shema with a chamber pot in the room.
Rav Yosef said: I raised a dilemma before Rav Huna: It is obvious to me that a bed under which there is a space of less than three handbreadths is considered connected [lavud] to the ground as if the void beneath it does not exist, as halakhah considers a void of less than three handbreadths as sealed. What, then, is the dilemma? What is the halakhah if that space is three, four, five, six, seven, eight or nine handbreadths? He said to him: I do not know. However, with regard to a space greater than ten handbreadths I certainly have no dilemma, as it is clear that this space is considered a separate domain. Abaye said to him: You did well that you did not have a dilemma, as the halakhah is that any space tenhandbreadths high is a separate domain.
The Tosafot R"I explain that there are two basic measurements established here: A space of less than three handbreadths is considered as if it were connected, so any void smaller than this is considered non-existent with regard to practical demarcation of limits and boundaries. Ten handbreadths, however, establishes not only a significant separation, but a separate domain in and of itself. Since their beds were covered along the sides, anything less than three handbreadths is considered connected, while more than ten is considered a separate room.
Berakhot 24a-b: The Challenge of Moving to Israel
27/01/2020 - 1st of Sh'vat, 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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Should one move to Israel? The Gemara relates that there was a disagreement among the Sages of the Gemara regarding this question.
Rabbi Abba was avoiding being seen by his teacher Rav Yehuda, as Rabbi Abba sought to ascend to Eretz Yisrael and his teacher disapproved, as Rav Yehuda said: Anyone who ascends from Babylonia to Eretz Yisrael transgresses a positive commandment, as it is stated: "They shall be taken to Babylonia and there they shall remain until the day that I recall them, said the Lord” (Yirmiyahu 27:22). Rabbi Abba did not want to discuss his desire to emigrate with Rav Yehuda. Nevertheless he said: I will go and hear something from him at the hall where the Sages assemble, without being seen, and afterwards I will leave Babylonia.
The Gemara in Massekhet Ketubot (daf 110b) relates a similar incident regarding Rabbi Zeira who, like Rabbi Abba, was a student of Rav Yehuda who desired to move to Israel. According to that Gemara, the proof-text brought by Rav Yehuda from Sefer Yirmiyahu  was understood by Rabbi Zeira as referring specifically to the Temple vessels that had been looted by the Babylonian troops. According to his approach, those vessels would not be returned until the time of redemption, but the passage does not relate at all to moving to Israel. Tosafot point out that in any case, the context of the passage in Yirmiyahu clearly relates to the period following the destruction of the first Temple; nevertheless Rav Yehuda chose to apply it to his time, as well. Apparently even according to Rav Yehuda's understanding, the prohibition - which is unique to Babylonia - did not apply while the Temple was standing, for then there is clearly a mitzva to immigrate to the land of Israel and fulfill the mitzvot that are connected with the land of Israel. However, Rav Yehuda maintained that after the destruction of the Temple it was forbidden to leave Babylonia.
Berakhot 23a-b: Restrictions to Prayer
26/01/2020 - 29th of Tevet, 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 on today's daf discusses a variety of situations where a person is limited in his ability to pray. For example, one may not hold phylacteries in his hand or a Torah scroll in his arm and pray, because his concern that the phylacteries or Torah scroll might fall will distract him from his prayer. Another example is someone who needs to go to the bathroom. The Gemara quotes a baraita that teaches:
One who needs to relieve himself may not pray, and if he prayed, his prayer is an abomination. Rav Zevid and some say Rav Yehuda said in qualifying this statement:They only taught this halakha in a case where one cannot restrain himself. But, if he can restrain himself, his prayer is a valid prayer as he is not tarnished by his need to relieve himself.
In this case there are two reasons that he cannot pray. First, he is distracted and unable to concentrate on his prayer; and because one who needs to relieve himself is considered filthy and unfit to pray. The Gemara continues:
And for how long must he be able to restrain himself? Rav Sheshet said: For as long as it takes to walk one parasang.
The determination of the length of time necessary to walk a parasang is connected to the disagreement with regard to the basic unit of measurement, the time necessary to walk a Talmudic mil. The talmudic mil is a unit of distance related to, but not identical with, the Roman mile, from which it received its name. One mil is equal to 2,000 cubits, 960 m (1,049 yd) according to Avraham Chaim Na’e, or 1,150 m (1,258 yd) according to the Ĥazon Ish. The fundamental problem lies in the method used to determine a person’s regular walking pace. According to the various opinions, the time it takes to walk a parasang is either one hour and twelve minutes or one hour and thirty-six minutes.
Berakhot 22a-b: Those Who Immerse in the Mornings
25/01/2020 - 28th of Tevet, 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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Even after Ze'iri quoted the ruling that abolished the decree of Ezra the Scribe requiring immersion and purification prior to Torah study (see above, daf 20, the Gemara continues to discuss those who followed this practice. Thus we find Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi asking: "What is the essence of those who immerse themselves in the morning?" The Gemara clarifies this question to be one of why immersion in a full 40-se'ah ritual bath would be necessary when other options are available, e.g., pouring nine-kav of water over the individual. Those mentioned here as "immersing in the morning" may have once comprised a clearly defined group who deviated from the path established by the Sages in different ways. At the end of the Tosefta for tractate Yadayim we find the following:
Those who immerse in the morning said: We rail against you Pharisees, for you recite the Name of God in a state of impurity. They replied: We rail against you who immerse in the morning, for you recite the Name in an impure body. Apparently, those who immersed in the morning considered themselves separate from the Pharisee Sages of Israel. Indeed, some theorize that this refers to an Essene cult that was particularly strict with regard to the laws of purity and whose members stringently purified themselves after seminal emissions by immersing in an actual ritual bath.
It is clear, however, that throughout the Talmudic period purification before Torah study was commonplace. The Gemara relates:
Rav Pappa and Rav Huna son of Rav Yehoshua, and Rava bar Shmuel ate bread together. Rav Pappa said to them: Allow me to recite Grace after Meals for the group, as I am ritually pure because nine kav of water fell upon me; i.e., he poured it over himself.Rava bar Shmuel said to them: We learned, in what case is this statement that nine kav purify, said? In a case involving Torah study for himself. But, in order to purify himself that he may teach Torah to others, and by extension to fulfill the obligation of others, he must immerse himself in forty se’ah. Rather, allow me to recite Grace after Meals for the group, as forty se’ah of water fell upon me; i.e., I immersed myself in a ritual bath.Rav Huna said to them: Allow me to recite Grace after Meals for the group, as I have had neither this nor that upon me because I remained ritually pure.
Ultimately the Gemara concludes that there is no difference between the need to purify oneself for personal Torah study or to teach others, and, as we have learned, that the decree of Ezra no longer applies.
Berakhot 21a-b: A Mistaken Prayer on Shabbat
24/01/2020 - 27th of Tevet, 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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In the course of a discussion about prayers said in error, the Gemara quotes Rav Nahman as relating:
When we were in the school of Rabba bar Avuha we raised a dilemma before him: Those students who mistakenly recited a blessing from the weekday Amida on Shabbat, what is the ruling with regards to completing the weekday prayer? And Rabba bar Avuha said to us: The ruling is that one must complete that entire blessing.
The Gemara explains:
On Shabbat, the individual is obligated and should actually recite all eighteen blessings, and it is the Sages who did not impose upon him in deference to Shabbat and instituted an abridged formula.
According to this opinion, Shabbat prayer is an abbreviated version of the weekday prayer, and therefore one who recites the weekday Amida on Shabbat and includes mention of Shabbat in his prayer, has, for all intents and purposes, arrived at the essence of the prayer and has fulfilled his obligation. Thus, one who was reciting the morning, afternoon, or evening prayer on Shabbat and mistakenly began to recite a blessing from the corresponding weekday Amida, completes the blessing that he began and then continues with the Shabbat prayer, in accordance with the opinion of Rabba bar Avuha. There is one Shabbat prayer that may be different. If one began to recite a weekday blessing during the musaf  prayer, which would not be recited on a typical weekday, some say that he does the same as he does in the rest of the Shabbat prayers. The Ra’avad, however, rules that he stops immediately and continues with the additional prayer, since there is no connection between weekday blessings and the musaf prayer. The later poskim ruled in accordance with the latter opinion to avoid a possible blessing in vain (see Mishna Berurah; Rambam Sefer Ahava, Hilkhot Tefilla 10:7; Shul%han Aruk, Ora%h %Hayyim 268:2).
Berakhot 20a-b: The Decrees of Ezra the Scribe
23/01/2020 - 26th of Tevet, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Mishna on today's daf relates that Ezra the Scribe decreed that one who is ritually impure because of a seminal emission may not engage in matters of Torah until he has immersed in a ritual bath and purified himself. Based on this the Mishna teaches:
If the time for the recitation of Shema arrived and one is impure due to a seminal emission, he may contemplate Shema in his heart, but neither recites the blessings preceding Shema, nor the blessings following it.
The Gemara (Bava Kamma daf 82a) cites a tradition with regard to the ten ordinances instituted by Ezra in order to enhance fulfillment of both mitzvot by Torah law and ancient customs. The common thread among all the ordinances was enhancing the sanctity in the daily existence of the people. By Torah law, one who experienced a seminal emission is ritually impure and prohibited from eating teruma and consecrated foods. In his ordinance, Ezra instituted that the individual must purify himself before praying or engaging in Torah study, as well. Although the ordinance was repealed several generations later, it remained the custom in many communities as well as a custom of the pious throughout the generations. The continuation of the Gemara (daf 22a) teaches that:
"When Ze’iri came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia, he taught, 'They abolished this ritual immersion.'"
According to most commentaries, (e.g., Rambam, Ra’avad, Shitta Mekubbetzet, Talmidei Rabbeinu Yonah), they could do so because Ezra’s ordinance did not gain acceptance throughout Israel. The principle is that any ordinance that did not gain acceptance, even if it was instituted by Torah giants, may be overturned by later generations; even by a court of lower stature than the one that instituted it in the first place. Indeed, the ordinance was repealed for several reasons. It led to dereliction in the study of Torah and it discouraged procreation. Therefore, it only remained as a custom to enhance sanctity.
Berakhot 19a-b: The Excommunication of a Sage
22/01/2020 - 25th of Tevet, 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 on today's daf discusses cases of excommunication, and mentions the famous case of Rabbi Eliezer and the tanur shel akhnai – the "snake oven" – that appears in Massekhet Bava Metzia (daf 59). A question was raised about the status of an oven that was made of separate pieces and then placed together with sand between the pieces. Should this tanur shel akhnai be seen as having lost its status as an existing oven when taken apart and rebuilt, or is it considered an oven throughout, since it was made to be taken apart in this way? Rabbi Eliezer felt that it lost its status as an oven and therefore, had it become ritually defiled, it would lose that status, as well; the Hakhamim ruled that it retained its status throughout. Rather than argue the case on its merits, the Gemara records that Rabbi Eliezer called on the carob tree to support him, the flowing water to support him, and the walls of the study hall to support him. In response to his call, the carob tree uprooted itself and moved 400 amot , the spring flowed backwards and the walls began to collapse – until Rabbi Yehoshua stopped them. The Sages refused to be influenced by any of these miraculous occurrences. Finally Rabbi Eliezer asked the heavens to support his position, and a bat kol - a heavenly voice - was heard to say "Why are you arguing with Rabbi Eliezer, whose rulings are always correct?" In response the Sages said lo ba-shamayim he - since the Torah was given to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai, decisions are no longer made based on heavenly decisions, but on the decisions of the Rabbis who interpret it. While some rishonim take this story literally and explain that miracles were performed on behalf of the Talmudic sages, just as they were for the early prophets, Rabbenu Hananel suggests another approach. He argues that this story was a dream - a vision at night - that seemed so real and significant that it was recorded for the message that it contains.
Berakhot 18a-b: Final Respect for the Dead
21/01/2020 - 24th of Tevet, 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 on today's daf relates a number of rules and regulations concerning the dignity of the deceased. Thus, for example:
One who watches over the deceased, even though it is not his dead relative, is exempt from the recitation of Shema, from the Amida prayer and from phylacteries, and from all mitzvot mentioned in the Torah.
One who transports bones from place to place may not place them in a saddlebag and place them on the donkey’s back and ride on them, as in doing so he treats the remains disgracefully. However, if he is afraid of gentiles or highwaymen and therefore must move quickly, he is permitted to do so.
One who sees the deceased taken to burial and does not escort him has committed a transgression due to the verse: "He who mocks the poor blasphemes his Creator.”
Similarly, the Gemara relates:
Rabbi Ĥiyya and Rabbi Yonatan were walking in a cemetery and the sky-blue string of Rabbi Yonatan’s ritual fringes was cast to the ground and dragging across the graves. Rabbi Ĥiyya said to him: Lift it, so the dead will not say: Tomorrow, when their day comes, they will come to be buried with us, and now they are insulting us.
According to the ruling in theYoreh Shulhan Aruk (YorehDe’ah 23:1), in places where the custom is to attach ritual fringes to one’s regular clothing, one may enter a cemetery with that garment, but he must make certain that the ritual fringes do not drag over the graves, in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Ĥiyya. Nowadays, when the garment with the ritual fringes is designated exclusively for prayer, one is prohibited from wearing it in a cemetery even if the ritual fringes do not drag across the graves. If one wears the garment beneath his clothing, it is permitted to enter the cemetery.
Berakhot 17a-b: Jesus in the Talmud
20/01/2020 - 23th of Tevet, 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 relates that when the Sages took leave of Rav %Hisda (some say it was Rabbi Shmuel bar Na%hmani) they would say the following homiletic interpretation of the passage in Sefer Tehillim (144:14):
"There is no breach”; that our faction of Sages should not be like the faction of David, from which Ahitophel emerged, who caused a breach in the kingdom of David."And no going forth”; that our faction should not be like the faction of Shaul, from which Doeg the Edomite emerged, who set forth on an evil path."And no outcry”; that our faction should not be like the faction of Elisha, from which Geihazi emerged. "In our open places”; that we should not have a child or student who overcooks his food in public, i.e., who sins in public and causes others to sin, as in the well-known case of Jesus the Nazarene.
In standard versions of the Talmud, this story appears without the name Jesus the Nazarene, which was removed by censors due to sensitivity to the Christian society in which they lived. Another example appears in tractate Sotah (47a), where Rabbi Yehoshua ben Peraĥya is depicted as one who pushed aside Jesus the Nazarene with both hands. The Gemara relates that Yehoshua ben Peraĥya was returning to Jerusalem following his flight to Alexandria in Egypt, together with his student, Jesus the Nazarene. When they stopped in an inn and were treated well, Yehoshua ben Peraĥya mentioned to Jesus that the service was good. Jesus responded that the innkeeper was unattractive. This response led Yehoshua ben Peraĥya to ostracize Jesus. Yehoshua ben Peraĥya was unable to bring himself to revoke the ostracism until it was too late and Jesus turned away from traditional Judaism. It should be noted, however, that the story of Yehoshua ben Peraĥya, who was driven from Jerusalem by the Hasmonean King Alexander Yannai, could not have taken place any later than 76 BCE. Consequently, the reference to Jesus the Nazarene cannot be connected with the individual surrounding whom the Christian faith was established. Many commentaries suggest that all talmudic references to Jesus refer to another person, or perhaps there was more than one person with that name who lived during the time of the Mishna.
Berakhot 16a-b: A Unique Slave
19/01/2020 - 22th of Tevet, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Mishna on today's daf teaches a number of situations in which Rabban Gamliel did not personally follow the laws that he taught. For example, although a groom is not obligated in the recitation of the Shema, on his wedding day Rabban Gamliel did recite it, explaining to his students that he was unable to refrain from the acceptance of the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven even for one moment. The Mishna continues:
And when his slave, Tavi, died, Rabban Gamliel accepted condolences for his death as one would for a close family member. His students said to him: Have you not taught us, our teacher, that one does not accept condolences for the death of slaves?Rabban Gamliel said to his students: My slave, Tavi, is not like all the rest of the slaves, he was virtuous and it is appropriate to accord him the same respect accorded to a family member.
This does not contradict the principle that one does not accept condolences for slaves, as is explained in the Jerusalem Talmud: From here we see that a student is beloved like a son. A virtuous slave who was a student, like Tavi, is beloved like a son and therefore one may accept condolences for his death. Tavi, the slave of Rabban Gamliel, is the most famous slave in the Talmud. Some go so far as to draw a parallel between Tavi, the slave of Rabban Gamliel, and Eliezer, the slave of Abraham. Rabban Gamliel was very fond of Tavi and appreciated his character and Torah knowledge. The Gemara relates that when Rabban Gamliel thought he had discovered a way to free Tavi he was overjoyed. Ultimately, though, he did not free him, due to concern over the prohibition to free a slave. Despite this, Rabban Gamliel treated him as a member of his family and, therefore, he accepted condolences when Tavi died.
Berakhot 15a-b: What Does a Grave Have To Do With a Womb?
18/01/2020 - 21th of Tevet, 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 we find that Rabbi Tavi quotes Rabbi Yoshiya regarding a question having to do with the recitation of Shema. Incidental to this statement, the Gemara cites another statement in their name:
And Rabbi Tavi said that Rabbi Yoshiya said: What is meant by that which is written: "There are three that are never satisfied…the grave and the barren womb” (Mishlei 30:15-16)? What does a grave have to do with a womb? Rather, this juxtaposition comes to tell you: Just as a womb takes in and gives forth, so too a grave takes in and gives forth with the resurrection of the dead.And is this not an a fortiori inference: Just as the fetus is placed into the womb in private, and the baby is removed from it with loud cries at childbirth; the grave into which the deceased is placed with loud cries of mourning at burial, is it not right that the body should be removed with loud cries? From this verse there is a refutation to those who say that there is no Torah source for the resurrection of the dead.
The passage in Mishlei refers to three entities that are never satisfied: The grave, the womb, and the earth. The Maharsha explains that it is only with regard to the earth that the verse specifies that it can never get enough water. With regard to the grave and the womb, the verse does not specify what it is of which they can never get enough. Therefore, the Gemara concludes: The verse remained silent with regard to these two juxtaposed entities to underscore a connection between them. The Gra suggests that the four daughters mentioned in the verse represent the four primordial elements: The grave represents earth, the womb represents wind, the earth not satisfied with water represents water, and fire is, obviously, fire. The Gemara noted that rather than juxtapose the grave, representing earth, to earth not satisfied with water, the verse inserted the womb in between. This is because the earth and the womb have motherhood and birth in common, as man was created from the earth (Vilna Gaon on Mishlei 30:16).
Berakhot 14a-b: Burial in the Time of the Mishna
17/01/2020 - 20th of Tevet, 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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Jewish law recognizes the significance of death and mourning, so that involvement in burial will free an individual even from such important commandments as the recitation of the Shema. The Gemara on today's daf quotes a baraita that teaches:
One who digs a grave for the dead in the wall of the family burial cave is exempt from the recitation of Shema, from prayer, from phylacteries, and from all mitzvot mentioned in the Torah. When the appointed time for the recitation of Shema arrives, he emerges from the cave, washes his hands, dons phylacteries, recites Shema, and prays.
The Gemara points out that the baraita itself is difficult and it appears to be contradictory:The first clause of the baraita stated that one digging a grave is exempt from the recitation of Shema, and the latter clause stated that he is obligated to emerge and recite Shema. The Gemara responds: That is not difficult. The latter clause of the baraita refers to a case of two individuals digging the grave together; one pauses to recite Shema while the other continues digging. The first clause of the baraita refers to a case of one individual digging alone, who may not stop.
According to traditional burial practice during Mishnaic times, the coffins, or sarcophagi, were placed in compartments chiseled in cave walls. The grave would typically be hewn long in advance; however, on occasion they would only begin to dig when the individual died, in which case the work was urgent. There is an apparent redundancy in the baraita as it teaches that one is exempt from the recitation of Shema and from all mitzvot mentioned in the Torah. Given that the recitation of Shema is, itself, a mitzvah mentioned in the Torah, its mention was unnecessary. Tosefot Rabbeinu Yehuda HaĤasid explain that had the baraita merely stated: From all mitzvot mentioned in the Torah, one might have drawn the erroneous conclusion that it is referring only to those mitzvot with no set time, which may, therefore, be postponed; not to mitzvot like Shema whose time will pass.
Berakhot 13a-b: Reciting the Shema Mid-Lecture
16/01/2020 - 19th of Tevet, 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 on today's daf relates that:
Rav said to his uncle, Rabbi %Hiyya: I did not see Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi accept the kingship of Heaven upon himself, meaning that he did not see him recite Shema. In response Rabbi %Hiyya said to him, when Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi passed his hands over his face in the study hall in the middle of his lesson, he accepted the yoke of the kingdom of Heaven upon himself, as his Shema was comprised of a single verse.
Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s students and members of his household disputed:
Does he complete Shema later or does he not complete it later? Bar Kappara says: He does not complete it later. Rabbi Shimon, son of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, says: He completes it later. Bar Kappara said to Rabbi Shimon, son of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi:Granted, according to my position, that I say that Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi does not complete Shema later, that is why when he taught, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi would specifically seek a topic that included the exodus from Egypt, as by so doing he fulfills the mitzva to remember the Exodus; a mitzva that others fulfill in their recitation of the last paragraph of Shema. But according to you, who says that he completes his recitation of Shema later, why, when he teaches, would he specifically seek a topic that included the exodus from Egypt?Rabbi Shimon responded: Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi did so in order to mention the exodus from Egypt at its appointed time, during the time of the recitation of Shema.
Although this Gemara is describing an unusual situation, where Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi fulfilled the mitzva of Shema while in the middle of his lecture, his practice of passing his hand over his face has become a standard feature of the recitation of the Shema. Various explanations of this practice have been offered. Rav Hai Ga'on and the Aruk suggest that while accepting God’s dominion over the entire world, one must direct his eyes in all directions, and Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi covered his eyes to conceal their movement. Rashi explains that passing his hands over his face was meant to keep all potential distractions from his sight in order to facilitate proper intent.
Berakhot 12a-b: Morning Blessings Recited in the Temple
15/01/2020 - 18th of Tevet, 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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While discussing the blessings that accompany the recitation of the Shema, the Gemara describes the practice in the Temple. In a Mishna in Massekhet Tamid we learn:
In the morning the deputy High Priest appointed to oversee activity in the Temple, said to the priests who were members of the priestly watch [mishmar] on duty that week: Recite a single blessing. The members of the priestly watch recited a blessing, and read the Ten Commandments, Shema, VeHaya im Shamoa and VaYomer, the standard recitation of Shema. Additionally they blessed the people with three blessings. These blessings were:True and Firm, the blessing of redemption recited after Shema;Avoda, service, the special blessing recited over God’s acceptance of the sacrifices with favor, similar to the blessing of Temple Service recited in the Amida prayer; and the priestly benediction, recited in the form of a prayer without the outstretched hands that usually accompany that blessing.And on Shabbat one blessing is added to bless the outgoing priestly watch, as the watch serving in the Temple was replaced on Shabbat.
Even before the Temple’s construction was completed, there were already more priests than necessary to perform the sacred service. Therefore, King David and the prophet Samuel established priestly watches (see I Divrei HaYamim Chapter 24). Based on ancient criteria, the priests were grouped into twenty-four watches, each serving in the Temple for one week twice a year. Only during the Pilgrimage Festivals, when the entire nation ascended to Jerusalem, did all of the priests come to the Temple. During the Second Temple period, the watches were redivided; however, the basic divisions remained intact. Each watch was divided into six paternal families, each assigned to one day of the week, so that all of the members of the watch would serve. The changing of the watches took place each Shabbat, and they would then perform the ceremony and recite the blessing for the incoming priestly watch. The Gemara teaches that the final blessing that was added when the priestly watch changed over was "May He cause love and brotherhood, peace and camaraderie to dwell among you." The Maharsha explains that the incoming priestly watch was blessed with this particular blessing because, at least for a brief period, the choice of the priest who would perform a particular service in the Temple was based on the result of competition between the priests. This competition sometimes led to calamitous results. Therefore, this blessing was recited in the hope that the incoming watch would be blessed with brotherhood and peace.
Berakhot 11a-b: Different Kinds of Love
14/01/2020 - 17th of Tevet, 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 blessing that introduces recitation of the Shema: Does one recite ahavah rabah "an abounding love" or ahavat olam "an eternal love"? We have inherited two kinds of love from our fathers, and both kinds can be considered a natural part of us in the sense that everyone can experience them with appropriate incentive and guidance. The first of these loves is abounding love, which is indeed vast and superior in every way. It is totally superior and, in contrast to earthly love, is not dependent on any external factor. It can only be achieved through an act of meditation and introspection. Love that sublime opens one up to a growing degree of awareness, of inner identity with divinity. It is a wholly internal experience, deeper, broader, and more sublime than any other. On the one hand, one may justifiably wonder whether this sublime love is essential for one’s immediate well-being. What is wrong with simply and naturally loving God with the second type of love, eternal love, like a son loves his father? Why can one not simply confess the soul’s dependence on and yearning for God and leave the intellectual quest to fathom His greatness to those better qualified? After all, simple, natural love is within the capacity of all men, whereas the intellectual inquiry and meditative comprehension of the divine requires an elevated level of connection, attained by only a few. On the other hand, if a son becomes conscious of his father’s greatness and learns to appreciate his virtues and capabilities, that will enrich his love and provide it with breadth and vitality that may otherwise be lacking. The simple love then transcends its irrational, natural, and personal confines and becomes something that greatly enhances one’s capacity to live in the world of God, Father to us all. It is as though one were to say: Even if God were not my own King and Father, I could not help loving Him in every way. Thus, the relationship gains an added dimension.
Berakhot 10a-b: Recognizing God in Every Stage of Life
13/01/2020 - 16th of Tevet, 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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Much of today's daf is devoted to explanations of prophetic verses in the books of Tehillim and Mishlei. One of the passages discussed appears in Eshet Hayil, a section at the end of the Book of Mishlei. Rabbi Yohanan quotes Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai as teaching:
What is the meaning of that which is written: "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of loving-kindness is on her tongue” (Mishlei 31:26)? The Sages explain that this chapter discusses the wisdom of Torah and those who engage in its study, so with reference to whom did Solomon say this verse? He said this verse about none other than his father, David, who was the clearest example of one who opens his mouth in wisdom, and who resided in five worlds or stages of life and his soul said a song of praise corresponding to each of them. Five times David said: "Bless the Lord, O my soul,” each corresponding to a different stage of life.
He resided in his mother’s womb, his first world, and said a song of praise of the pregnancy, as it is stated: "Of David. Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me bless His holy name” (Tehillim 103:1). He emerged into the atmosphere of the world, his second world, looked upon the stars and constellations and said a song of praise of God for the entirety of creation, as it is stated: "Bless the Lord, His angels, mighty in strength, that fulfill His word, listening to the voice of His word. Bless the Lord, all His hosts, His servants, that do His will. Bless the Lord, all His works, in all places of His kingship, bless my soul, Lord” (Tehillim 103:20-23). David saw the grandeur of all creation and recognized that they are mere servants, carrying out the will of their Creator.He nursed from his mother’s breast, his third world, and he looked upon her bosom and said a song of praise, as it is stated: "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all His benefits [gemulav]” (Tehillim 103:2). The etymological association is between gemulav and gemulei me%halav, which means weaned from milk (Yeshayahu 28:9).He witnessed in both vision and reality the downfall of the wicked and he said a song of praise, as it is stated: "Let sinners cease from the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless the Lord, O my soul, Halleluya” (Tehillim 104:35). The fifth world was when David looked upon the day of death and said a song of praise, as it is stated: "Bless the Lord, O my soul. Lord my God, You are very great; You are clothed in glory and majesty” (Tehillim 104:1); for even death is a time of transcendence for the righteous.
In his Ein Ayah, Rav Kook teaches that there is a tremendous difference between looking upon an experience in a superficial manner and reflecting upon it and contemplating it. An individual who merely sees the external will not come to understand the deeper, spiritual significance of a given experience or encounter. Natural events like pregnancy, birth, and nursing may seem to be mundane events experienced by humans and animals alike. However, one with a higher level of spiritual discernment will appreciate the vast difference between man and animal. King David’s songs of praise, uttered at every stage of life, attest to the magnitude of his sensitivity to God’s beneficence and to his appreciation of His role in the world.
Berahkot 9a-b: Different Aspects of Redemption
12/01/2020 - 15th of Tevet, 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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In the first Mishna of Massekhet Berakhot (daf, 2), Rabban Gamliel taught that many commandments that are supposed to be completed by midnight, can really be done until dawn. The Gemara on today's daf notes that the commandment to eat the Passover sacrifice is not included in his list, indicating that Rabban Gamliel believes that it cannot wait until dawn and must be completed by midnight. Rav Yosef explains that in fact there is a difference of opinion between the tannaim regarding this point. Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya agrees with Rabban Gamliel that the sacrifice must be eaten by midnight while Rabbi Akiva believes that it can be eaten until dawn. Rabbi Abba explains that they differ with regard to when the period of "haste" that represented redemption took place – when the Egyptians hurried to their homes at night to encourage them to leave, or when the Israelites hurried to leave during the day. All agree, however, that permission for redemption was given at night and that the redemption itself took place during the day. In his Ein Ayah, Rav Kook explains that here are two separate elements to the transition from slavery to freedom. First, the slave acquires a personal sense of freedom and becomes master of his own fate. Second, he becomes free in the eyes of others, i.e., he is perceived by those surrounding him as a free man and has the potential to influence them. With regard to the children of Israel, the first element enabled them to receive the Torah and elevate themselves with the fulfillment of God’s commandments. The second element provided Israel with the opportunity to become a "light unto the nations.” Therefore, the redemption was divided into two stages. The first stage, in which they acquired private, personal freedom, took place at night; the second stage, which drew the attention of the world to the miracle of the Exodus, took place during the day.
Berakhot 8a-b: Cutting Veins and Arteries
11/01/2020 - 14th of Tevet, 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 we find Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi offered a number of legal and ethical recommendations to his son. Among then was the statement "Be careful with the veins, in accordance with Rabbi Yehuda." The reference to Rabbi Yehuda refers to a Mishna in Massekhet Hullin (daf 27) that teaches one of the most basic rules of ritual slaughter. When performing shehitah the slaughterer must cut two simanim – the esophagus and trachea – in an animal, and a single siman – either the esophagus or the trachea – in a bird. In both cases, it would be sufficient to cut the majority of the simanim (or one of the simanim in the case of a bird). Rabbi Yehuda requires that the arteries should be cut, as well. Rav Hisda limits Rabbi Yehuda's teaching to shehitah performed on a bird, since a bird is often roasted whole. Larger animals, however, that are invariably cut into pieces, do not need to have their arteries severed. The Gemara concludes from this that Rabbi Yehuda's ruling is not connected with shehitah per se, so much as it is a response to a potential problem with blood becoming congealed in the body of the animal. Therefore, it is not essential that the veins be cut during the act of ritual slaughter, in fact it is sufficient if the arteries are punctured after slaughter, as well. Furthermore, the rishonim point out that if the arteries were not cut during slaughter or punctured after slaughter, nevertheless the bird would still be kosher; it would just have to be cut up, rather than roasted whole, so that the blood would have an opportunity to drain out of the meat. The term used by Rabbi Yehuda for arteries is veridim – a word that does not appear in biblical Hebrew at all – that refers to the major blood vessels in the neck. The distinction that is made today between veins – the vessels that carry deoxygenated blood from the rest of the body to the heart – and arteries that carry oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body, is a modern concept that was unknown in the time of the Gemara. The Aruk haShulhan rules that Rabbi Yehuda requires that the large veins in the neck near the skin be cut, but most of the poskim, following the Rambam in his Commentary to the Mishna, argue that the reference is to the two arteries that are deeper in the neck, behind the esophagus and the trachea.
Berakhot 7a-b: The Lord's Prayer
10/01/2020 - 13th of Tevet, 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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Somewhat surprisingly, the Sages of the Gemara related that God recites prayers. On today's daf  we learn:
Rabbi Yohanan said in the name of Rabbi Yose: From where is it derived that the Holy One, Blessed be He, prays? As it is stated: "I will bring them to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in the house of My prayer” (Yeshayahu 56:7). The verse does not say the house of their prayer, but rather, "the house of My prayer”; from here we see that the Holy One, Blessed be He, prays.The Gemara asks: What does God pray? To whom does God pray?
R Zutra bar Tovia said that Rav said:God says: May it be My will that My mercy will overcome My anger towards Israel for their transgressions,and may My mercy prevail over My other attributes through which Israel is punished,and may I conduct myself toward My children, Israel, with the attribute of mercy, and may I enter before them beyond the letter of the law.
Much has been said with regard to these statements, and many homiletical and mystical interpretations have been suggested in an effort to understand them. Most commentaries hold that God’s prayer is God’s request of the individual and of mankind as a whole to turn to Him with all their heart. In other words, if people repent their sins and attempt to break the vicious cycle of "one transgression leads to another transgression,” they will cause God’s attribute of mercy to prevail over His attribute of justice, and even those deserving of punishment will be spared. That said, God’s prayer, so to speak, is His wish/request of man: "And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear” (Devarim 10:12).The fact that God’s wish is characterized as a prayer means that God is showing His desire and His will, His prayer, that man will be better and worthy of His bountiful blessing.
 
Berakhot 6a-b: Vigilance In Daily Prayer
09/01/2020 - 12th of Tevet, 5780
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The Gemara quotes Rabbi Helbo in the name of Rav Huna as teaching:
One must always be vigilant with regard to the afternoon prayer, as Eliyahu’s prayer was only answered in the afternoon prayer, as it is stated: "And it was at the time of the afternoon offering that Elijah the Prophet came near, and he said: Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known on this day that You are God in Israel, and that I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Answer me, Lord, answer me, that this people will know that You, Lord, are God” I Melakhim 18:36-37). Because Eliyau was answered in the afternoon prayer, it has particular significance.
In response, the Gemara quotes other Sages who recommend vigilance in the other prayers, as well.
Rabbi Yohanan said: One must be vigilant with regard to the evening prayer as well, as it is stated: "Let my prayer come forth as incense before You, the lifting of my hands as the evening offering” (Tehillim 141:2).Rav Nahman bar Yitzhak said: One must be vigilant with regard to the morning prayer as well, as it is stated: "Lord, in the morning You shall hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer unto You and will look forward” (Tehillim 5:4).
The Keli Yakar explains that there is reason to issue a particular warning with regard to the afternoon prayer and to underscore its significance because there are many reasons liable to cause one to neglect to recite the afternoon prayer or to fail to recite it with the proper intent. Unlike the morning prayer, which one recites before he leaves for work, or the evening prayer, which he recites after returning home, often, one must interrupt his activities and recite the afternoon prayer. Therefore, he is warned more sternly with regard to that prayer. For that same reason, the afternoon prayer is highly significant, as one must disengage himself from all involvements in order to pray. Rabbi Yohanan, who underscored the significance of the evening prayer, did so because he believed that it too required reinforcement due to the fact that it is optional and, when one is tired, he is liable to take it lightly. Rav Nahman bar Yitzhak underscored the significance of the morning prayer as well because he was concerned that when one is hurrying to leave for work, he may neglect to recite the prayer and rely on the fact that he can recite the afternoon prayer twice.
Berakhot 5a-b: To Search for Spiritual Healing
08/01/2020 - 11th of Tevet, 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 quotes Rava, and some say Rav %Hisda, as teaching that if a person sees that suffering has befallen him, he should examine his actions. In the course of discussing this, the Gemara argues that there are three different possible sources for an individual Jew's suffering, each with scriptural support.
  1. Generally, suffering comes about as punishment for one’s transgressions, as it is stated: "We will search and examine our ways, and return to God” (Eichah 3:40).
  2. If he examined his ways and found no transgression for which that suffering is appropriate, he may attribute his suffering to dereliction in the study of Torah. God punishes an individual for dereliction in the study of Torah in order to emphasize the gravity of the issue, as it is stated: "Happy is the man whom You punish, Lord, and teach out of Your law” (Tehillim 94:12). This verse teaches us that his suffering will cause him to return to Your law.
  3. And if he did attribute his suffering to dereliction in the study of Torah, and did not find this to be so, he may be confident that these are afflictions of love, as it is stated: "For whom the Lord loves, He rebukes, as does a father the son in whom he delights” (Mishlei 3:12).
The Iyyun Ya’akov explains that the Gemara is teaching that when one realizes that he is ill, he should not assume that it is happenstance and immediately turn to medical doctors. Rather, he should view it as an opportunity to examine his own actions and conduct. A doctor examines a patient to determine the cause of the illness so that he may prescribe effective medicine to counteract the illness and restore the patient to physical health. Similarly, an examination of the soul is required to determine the source of one’s spiritual illness. The first step in curing the illness is abandoning the conduct that is deleterious to one’s spiritual health.
Berakhot 4a-b: The Impact of Sin on Prophesy
07/01/2020 - 10th of Tevet, 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 names King David as an example of a righteous individual who was, nevertheless, concerned lest he lose his portion in the World-to-Come. The Gemara explains that although King David recognized his own status, he was concerned shema yigrom ha-het - lest a transgression that he might commit in the future would cause him to lose what he rightly deserved. To support the idea of shema yigrom ha-het the Gemara offers examples of situations where transgressions are understood to have changed the course of history. One example is the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel at the beginning of the Second Temple period, which took place naturally without any obvious miracles. The Gemara relates that when Moshe Rabbeinu sang the Song of the Sea he referred prophetically to the entrance of the Children of Israel into the land with Yehoshua and then again with Ezra (see Shemot 15:16-17). Based on the juxtaposition of these two entries in this single verse, the Sages said: "Israel was worthy of having a miracle performed on its behalf in the time of Ezra the scribe, just as one was performed on their behalf in the time of Yehoshua bin Nun. However, transgression caused the absence of a miracle." In both the Rambam’s Mishneh Torah, (Hilkhot Yesodei HaTorah, Chapter 10), and in his introduction to his commentary on the Mishna, he writes that promises made by God by means of a prophet will never be retracted and that no sin can affect those promises. This appears to contradict the statement that transgression caused the undoing of Moses’ promise to the Jewish people that entry into Eretz Yisrael during Ezra’s time would be miraculous. The Anaf Yosef explains this discrepancy based on the fact that the Rambam wrote this in the context of explaining how to ascertain who is a true prophet. Positive prophecies made by a true prophet are always fulfilled lest questions be raised about the prophet’s legitimacy. Since there is no question that Moses was a true prophet, even if one of his prophecies was not realized due to the people’s transgression, no doubts would be raised with regard to his status as a prophet.
Berakhot 3a-b: Praying on the Road
06/01/2020 - 9th of Tevet, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
On today's daf the Gemara relates a story about how Rabbi Yose once entered the ruins of an old, abandoned building in Jerusalem in order to pray. While in the midst of his prayers, he noticed that Eliyahu HaNavi came and guarded the entrance until he finished his prayer. In the ensuing conversation, Eliyahu inquired as to why Rabbi Yose had chosen to pray in a ruin, and Rabbi Yose explained that he did not want to be disturbed by others. In response Eliyahu told him that he should have recited an abbreviated prayer, which was instituted for just such circumstances. From this exchange Rabbi Yose concludes:
At that time, from that brief exchange, I learned from him, three things: I learned that one may not enter a ruin; and I learned that one need not enter a building to pray, but he may pray along the road; and I learned that one who prays along the road recites an abbreviated prayer so that he may maintain his focus.
Beyond its simple meaning, there is a deeper message conveyed in this story. Rabbi Yose was engrossed in thought and meditation, and as he entered a ruin among the ruins of Jerusalem, began to ruminate over the destruction of Jerusalem and Israel’s resultant exile. He began to think of the Temple, praying that it would be rebuilt and that Jerusalem would be restored. In the midst of these prayers, Rabbi Yose was interrupted by Eliyahu, who rebuked him and said that one should not become preoccupied with thoughts of destruction as that is a distraction from the task at hand. It is preferable to pray a brief, general prayer. In his vision, in the minor prophecy that Rabbi Yose experienced in the ruin, he was told that the pain over the exile is not limited to Israel alone. Israel’s pain in exile is God’s pain as well, and one must hope that God will rebuild His sanctuary for His own sake as well as Israel’s.
Berakhot 2a-b: Beginning with the Recitation of the Shema
05/01/2020 - 8th of Tevet, 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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Since Massekhet Berakhot deals with the laws of prayers and blessings, the tanna of the Mishna chose to open with the rules of the recitation of the Shema, which is a Biblical command that is obligatory on a daily basis and contains the basic statement of faith and acceptance of God. The fundamental issue discussed in the first chapter of Berakhot is: What are the practical implications of the text of Shema? Particularly, how is one to understand the terms "When you lie down, and when you arise" as a precise, halakhic directive? Based on a reading of the text of the Torah itself, one could understand the content of these verses as general encouragement to engage in the study of Torah at all times. However, in the oral tradition, the obligation to recite Shema is derived from these verses. Once this obligation is established, it is incumbent upon us to ascertain howit is to be fulfilled. The obligation of Shema involves reciting three sections from the Torah:
  1. Shema (Devarim 6:4-9);
  2. VeHaya im Shamo'a (Devarim 11:13-21), and
  3. VaYomer (Bamidbar 15:37-41).
There is a twice-daily obligation to recite these sections, in the morning and the evening, as per the verse: "When you lie down, and when you arise." Through reciting these sections one expresses commitment to the fundamental tenets of the Torah and faith in God. The first question is with regard to the meaning of: "When you lie down, and when you arise." Is the Torah merely establishing a time frame for reciting "these words," or is it also describing the manner and the circumstances in which those words should be recited? Even if "when you lie down, and when you arise" merely establishes the time frame for reciting Shema, that time frame is not as clearly defined as it would have been had the Torah written "morning" and "evening." It remains to be determined whether "when you lie down" refers to the hour that people usually go to sleep or, perhaps, the entire duration of that sleep. Similarly, is "when you arise" referring to the entire period of the day during which people are awake, or is it perhaps referring to the specific hour when each individual awakens? In general, is there a direct correlation between "when you lie down and when you arise" and morning and evening? These and many related questions are the primary focus of the first chapter.
Nidda 73a-b: Completing the Talmud Bavli
04/01/2020 - 7st of Tevet, 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 closing daf of Massekhet Nidda, indeed the closing daf of the Babylonian Talmud, ends with the following statement:
The Sage of the study house of Eliyahu teaches: Whoever repeats words of Jewish law every day may rest assured that he will have a share of the World to Come, for it is said (Habakkuk 3:6), halikhot olam lo, literally, "His ways are everlasting"; read not halikhot (his ways) but halakhot (Jewish law).
While Rashi and others have this statement as part of the Gemara, it does not appear in many manuscripts, and may be a later addition. Tosafot explains its appearance based on a Gemara in Massekhet Berakhot (daf 31a) that teaches that just as we find that the prophetic books close on a positive note of praise and comfort, it is appropriate for the Talmud to close in a similar manner. Rabbi David Luria suggests that this statement is particularly important here, since the Mishnayot of the Order of Ṭohorot continue, and the editors of the Gemara feared that students would conclude their study with Massekhet Nidda. The statement encouraging the daily study of halakhot, i.e. of Mishna, means to encourage completion of the other tractates. According to the Maharsha this statement was included in order to emphasize to the individual who completes Massekhet Nidda that even though the accepted stringency instituted by Rabbi Zeira (see above, daf 66) renders many of the laws of the tractate moot, nevertheless there is an independent value of the regular study of these laws. The Arukh La-Ner points out that the final Mishna at end of the Massekhet Oktzin, which is the very last tractate of the Talmud, has a parallel conclusion, describing the great reward that is due to the individual who studies Torah, based on the passage in Mishlei (8:21). At the conclusion of the study of all the laws of the Mishna, it is appropriate to be told of the spiritual reward that accompanies such endeavors. Similarly, at the end of the study of the Talmud, a statement attesting to the ultimate reward of a place in the World to Come is certainly in place.
Nidda 72a-b: Sexual Gluttony
03/01/2020 - 6st of Tevet, 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 have already learned that the Torah recognizes two different types of vaginal bleeding - blood of a nidda and blood of a zavah (see above, daf 36). According to Biblical law, when a woman experiences her menstrual cycle she is a nidda whether she bleeds only once or many times over a period of seven days. At the end of seven days she immerses in a mikva and is rendered ritually pure. A zavah is a woman who experiences a flow of menstrual-type blood during a time of the month when she is not due to experience menstrual bleeding. The eleven days that follow are called yemei zivah; if she experiences vaginal bleeding during that time she is rendered a zavah. The laws of zavah differ from those of a nidda. If a zavah experiences bleeding just once or twice during that period, she is deemed a zavah ketanah who will "keep watch a day for a day" - she must check that she is free of bleeding one day for each day that she bled. After experiencing bleeding on a third day, however, the woman is considered a zavah gedolah and is obligated to wait a full seven days without bleeding. At that time she can immerse in a mikva and she will be permitted to her husband. The next day she must bring a sacrifice as part of her purification process, which will allow her to enter the Temple and consume sacrifices (see Vayikra 15:25-29). The Mishna on today's daf  discusses cases where a woman experiences a discharge of blood at the end of the eleven day period of yemei zivah. In such a case, she cannot become a zavah gedolah who needs to wait a week, since subsequent bleeding cannot take place during the eleven day period that has now ended. If she immerses in the mikva that night without waiting at all, and engages in sexual relations with her husband, Beit Shammai rule that since she did not wait a day as a zavah is required to do they have transgressed; they both are ritually unclean and they must bring a sin-offering. Beit Hillel disagree, ruling that she need not wait the additional day, since in any case it is after the eleven day period of yemei zivah.If the woman waited until the following day to immerse, Beit Shammai agree that there is no biblical prohibition; Beit Hillel refer to the husband as a gargeran - a sexual glutton. Rashi explains that although according to Beit Hillel there is no prohibition against engaging in sexual relations under these circumstances, the reference to sexual gluttony stems from the fact that this kind of behavior can lead to an actual prohibition. If the couple gets used to engaging in relations following immersion on the day following bleeding during yemei zivah without waiting a full "clean day," at some point they may do so even during the eleven day period of yemei zivah, which the Torah forbids.
Nidda 71a-b: Crucifixion and the Ritual Impurity of the Blood of a Corpse
02/01/2020 - 5st of Tevet, 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 most severe type of ritual defilement is that of a dead body, which imparts ritual impurity to people and garments for a period of seven days. The laws of a corpse apply not only to a full body, but also to parts of the body of significant size. In addition, a revi'it of blood from a dead body will also impart ritual impurity. The Gemara on today's daf  discusses dam tevusah - a mixture of blood that flowed from a dying person who began to bleed while he was alive (blood that does not impart ritual impurity) and continued to bleed after his death (blood that imparts ritual impurity). Although the midrash in the Sifrei appears to derive the law that dam tevusah imparts ritual purity from the passage in Bamidbar (19:11), that is clearly an asmakhta - a hint to a law that is really of Rabbinic origin, inasmuch as none of the commentaries describe it as a Biblical law. The Gemara relates the following case in the name of Rabbi Shimon:
If the blood of a man crucified upon the beam was flowing slowly to the ground, and a quarter of a log of blood was found under him, it is unclean.
Crucifixion was one of the common methods used by the Romans to put someone to death. This cruel and unusual punishment was often applied to slaves, captives and rebels. In and of itself, crucifixion did not kill the victim, since it involved only nailing the person's hands and legs to a wooden cross. Death by crucifixion came about because of dehydration and loss of blood; it is for this reason that there are recorded instances where an individual who was crucified were taken down from the cross and survived. Until the victim's death his blood would continuously drip down, and the blood would continue to drip even after he had died, as is clear from the discussion in the Gemara.
Nidda 70a-b: Three Questions of Nonsense
01/01/2020 - 4st of Tevet, 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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As we learned on yesterday's daf , Rabbi Yehoshua was presented with 12 questions by the Sages of Alexandria - three were of hokhmah (knowledge), three were matters of aggada, three were mere nonsense and three were matters of conduct. The nonsense questions - together with the answers supplied by Rabbi Yehoshua - appear on today's daf.
They asked: Does the wife of Lot (see Bereshit 19:26) convey uncleanness? He replied: A corpse conveys uncleanness but no pillar of salt conveys uncleanness. Does the son of the Shunamite (see II Melakhim 4:35) convey uncleanness? He replied: A corpse conveys uncleanness but no live person conveys uncleanness. Will the dead in the hereafter require to be sprinkled upon on the third and the seventh (see Bamidbar 19:12) or will they not require it? He replied: When they will be resurrected we shall go into the matter. Others say: When they come, our Master Moses will come with them.
There are different opinions about why these questions are labeled "questions of nonsense." Rashi says that the questions are simply absurd. In his Hokhmat Bezalel, Rabbi Bezalel Ranschberg argues that rather than divrei borut ("nonsense"), the expression should be read divrei borot ("matters of interment"), which merely indicates that these were questions that related to issues having to do with those who died. In his She'arim ha-Metzuyim ba-Halakha, Rabbi Shlomo Zalmen Braun points out that even though these questions that were posed to Rabbi Yehoshua ben Hananiah were not of great significance, nevertheless he took them seriously and gave substantive answers to them, rather than reject them out of hand. The central idea is that a Sage must be willing to take all questions seriously, even if they are questions that have no significance, since if he refuses to do so the questioner will refrain from turning to him even when he has important issues that need to be discussed.
Nidda 69a-b: Questions Posed by the Sages of Alexandria
31/12/2019 - 3st of Tevet, 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  we find a list of questions presented to one of the Sages of the Mishna.
Our Rabbis taught: Twelve questions did the Alexandrians address to Rabbi Yehoshua . Three were of hokhmah (knowledge), three were matters of aggada, three were mere nonsense and three were matters of conduct.
Rabbi Yehoshua  was one of the leaders of the Jewish community in the generation that followed the destruction of the second Temple. He was famous in Israel and throughout the world, not only for his erudition in matters of Jewish law, but also for his expertise in the sciences and in general knowledge, from astronomy to zoology. He traveled to Rome on numerous occasions as a member of official leadership delegations, where he had occasion to appear before the Caesar. Among the topics discussed in the course of those meetings were questions of science and general knowledge. In the course of his travels, Rabbi Yehoshua  met with many of the leading non-Jewish thinkers of his time. We find stories of meetings between him and the elders of Athens as well as those of Alexandria - two of the centers of worldly knowledge of those times - as we see in our Gemara. Rashi explains that the questions about hokhmah or knowledge that are presented in the Gemara all relate to matters of Jewish law (they focus on laws of ritual purity, priestly marriage and sacrifices brought by a leper). It is clear from their questions that the Alexandrians were knowledgeable - and interested - in Jewish law and the methods used by the Sages to derive these laws. Others explain that hokhmah refers to the "revealed" parts of the Torah, in contrast with the hidden, or esoteric knowledge of the Torah.
Nidda 68a-b: Correcting a Ruling of Jewish Law
30/12/2019 - 2st of Tevet, 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
One of the essential preparations performed prior to immersion in a mikvah is washing one's hair to ensure that there are no hatzitzot - foreign objects that would serve as obstructions to proper immersion. When must a woman wash her hair? Rava teaches that a woman can wash her hair on Friday afternoon in preparation for immersion on Saturday night. Rav Pappa objected to this teaching, referring Rava to a letter that had been received from Ravin that clearly forbade this since the halakha requires that immersion should closely follow the washing of the head. The Gemara concludes:
Rava subsequently appointed an amora in connection with this matter and delivered the following discourse: The statement I made to you is an erroneous one,but in fact it was this that was reported in the name of Rabbi Yohanan, ‘A woman may not wash her head on the Sabbath eve and perform immersion at the termination of the Sabbath.’
Letters, such as the one from Ravin that Rav Papa referred to, attest to a common means of communication that kept the Jewish community in Israel and the Diaspora united even after travel became difficult and often dangerous. Letters from the Sages in Israel to their counterparts in Babylonia most often referred to such matters as establishing the calendar, but dealt with other issues of Jewish law, as well. When the Gemara notes that Rava appointed an amora to correct his earlier ruling, it refers to an individual who served in the capacity of a meturgeman - a speaker/ translator, whose job it was to present the words of the Rabbinic Sage to the students or to other members of the audience. Oftentimes the amora would not only repeat the words of the Sage or translate them from Hebrew to Aramaic, but he would also interpret and clarify the teachings. It is for this reason that the Rabbinic Sages of the Gemara referred to themselves as amoraim, since they viewed their role as interpreters of the words of the Sages of the Mishna who preceded them.
Nidda 67a-b: When Should a Woman Immerse in the Mikvah?
29/12/2019 - 1st of Tevet, 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 should a woman immerse in the mikvah? As we have learned (see yesterday's daf,), according to Biblical law, a woman who is a nidda counts seven days from when she begins to menstruate, and can immerse at the end of the seventh day, even if her bleeding continues throughout the week. Based on this, Rav teaches that if the woman immerses at the proper time - that is, at the end of those seven days - she cannot immerse during the day, which would be too early, rather she can only immerse after dark. If, however, she waits until the next day, she can immerse during the day, as well. Rabbi Yohanan disagrees, arguing that if she goes to the mikvah during the day her daughter may not realize that it is the day after she has completed her seven days of niddah, and may mistakenly learn that one can immerse on the seventh day. The Gemara concludes that ultimately Rav agreed that a woman should always immerse at night to ensure that her daughters should not learn incorrect practices. At the same time, the Gemara lists exceptions to this rule:
  • Rav Idi ordained at Narash that immersion shall be performed on the eighth day on account of lions.
  • Rav A%ha bar Yaakov issued a similar ordinance at Papunia on account of thieves.
  • Rav Yehuda did the same at Pumbedita on account of the cold.
  • Rabbah acted similarly at Mahoza on account of the guards of the city gates.
In conclusion, when there is danger at night, women can immerse during the day. The cities of Narash, Papunia, Pumbedita and Mahoza are Babylonian cities that served as religious centers due to the great Torah Sages who lived there and served as leaders, as illustrated by the regulations that they established in response to the needs of their individual communities.
Nidda 66a-b : A Stringency of the Daughters of Israel
28/12/2019 - 30th of Kislev, 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 have already learned that the Torah recognizes two different types of vaginal bleeding - blood of a nidda and blood of a zavah (see yesterday's daf). According to Biblical law, when a woman experiences her menstrual cycle she is a nidda whether she bleeds only once or many times over a period of seven days. At the end of seven days she immerses in a mikvah and is rendered ritually pure. A zavah is a woman who experiences a flow of menstrual-type blood during a time of the month when she is not due to experience menstrual bleeding. The eleven days that follow are called yemei zivah; If she experiences vaginal bleeding during that time she is rendered a zavah. The laws of zavah differ from those of a nidda. If a zavah experiences bleeding just once or twice during that period, she is deemed a zavah ketanah who will "keep watch a day for a day" - she must check that she is free of bleeding one day for each day that she bled. After experiencing bleeding on a third day, however, the woman is considered a zavah gedolah and is obligated to wait a full seven days without bleeding. At that time she can immerse in a mikvah and she will be permitted to her husband. The next day she must bring a sacrifice as part of her purification process, which will allow her to enter the Temple and consume sacrifices (see Vayikra 15:25-29).
On today's daf we find a statement made by Rabbi Zeira that has led to a long-term stringency regarding the laws of nidda. Rabbi Zeira related that: The daughters of Israel have imposed upon themselves the restriction that even if they observe a drop of blood of the size of a mustard seed they wait on account of it seven clean days.
This stringency effectively forces every woman to keep the rules of a zavah who must wait seven clean days, even when she is almost certainly a nidda who should be able to immerse seven days after her menstruation began even if the bleeding continued throughout the week. This tradition has taken on the power of established law and Rambam, Shulḥan Aruk and others describe it as obligatory, even as they recognize that it is a severe stringency.
Nidda 65a-b: Planning for Retirement
27/12/2019 - 29th of Kislev, 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 often find that the Gemara brings a number of statements by a particular Sage in an associative manner. On today's daf , the Gemara discusses a question that R. Hinana bar Shelemyah asked Rav relating to the laws of nidda as they relate to an underage girl. After completing that discussion, the Gemara quotes another teaching of R. Hinana bar Shelemyah in the name of Rav on an unrelated matter.
R. Hinana bar Shelemyah observed: As soon as a person's teeth fall out his means of a livelihood are reduced; for it is said: And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places (Amos 4:6).
The simple meaning of this statement is that when a person reaches old age, which is when ordinarily a person loses his teeth and loses the ability to chew his food properly, the need to use his teeth lessens, as well, since he eats less than he did in his younger years. Rashi explains that this is an economic reality. Once a person can no longer perform the work that he did in his youth he earns less and must manage with less than he did previously. The Maharsha derives from this teaching that it is important that a person plan carefully and save for his later years, and that he should therefore not distribute all of his property to his children during his lifetime. Rav Ya'akov Emden argues that this recommendation applies more to simple folk, but Torah scholars need not be as concerned about their aging, since the Sages taught that Torah scholars become sharper as they age (see the end of Massekhet Kinim) and that a strong foundation of Torah learning in one's youth offers hope and sustenance in one's old age.
Nidda 64a-b: The Symbolism of Menstrual Blood
26/12/2019 - 28th of Kislev, 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 that closes the ninth perek of Massekhet Nidda waxes poetic in describing vaginal bleeding in a woman. The Mishna teaches:
Women in regard to their virginity are like vines. One vine may have red wine while another has black wine, one vine may yield much wine while another yields little.
In response, the Gemara quotes a baraita where a different metaphor is used to describe a menstrual period:
Rabbi %Hiyya taught: As leaven is wholesome for the dough so is menstrual blood wholesome for a woman.
It appears that the Sages of the Mishna took their muse from passages in the Tanakh and in midrashic works. According to the Tanna Kamma  a woman is compared to a grapevine based on the verse in Sefer Tehillim (128:3) Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine, in the innermost parts of thy house; thy children like olive plants, round about thy table. The verse is understood as teaching that if one's wife is similar to a fruitful vine - one that gives much wine - in that her menstrual flow is strong, she will be able to have many children. Rabbi Hiyya, on the other hand, borrowed his material from the midrashic interpretation of the Yosef story, where we find that Yosef's master trusted him with everything "save the bread which he did eat" (Bereshit 39:6). The "bread" is understood to refer to his wife, as we find when Yosef rebuffs his master's wife's advances with the argument that Potiphar trusted him with everything "save thee, because thou art his wife." Thus, Rabbi Hiyya's metaphor compares a woman to leaven. Just as leaven makes the dough rise and become bread, similarly menstrual blood ensures pregnancy and childbirth. The Arukh LaNer suggests that Rabbi Hiyya's metaphor is necessary because it adds an element of clarification to that of the Mishna. The Mishna's parallel between blood and wine is not perfect inasmuch as the blood is not good in itself, it is only good to the extent that it aids in successful childbirth. This stands in contrast with grapes that are good in-and-of themselves. Rabbi Hiyya draws a parallel with leaven, which is not good in itself, but its impact on the dough is a positive one, just like menstrual blood and birth.
Nidda 63a-b: A Fixed Cycle
25/12/2019 - 27th of Kislev, 5780
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We have learned that many women have an established veset kavu'ah - a regular menstrual cycle that allows them to predict with some accuracy when they will experience their menses (see daf 5). The Mishna on today's daf discusses the concept of a veset ha-guf, where the woman knows to expect that she will menstruate because of some physical exertion that she performs. The Mishna teaches:
These are the symptoms of fixed menstrual cycles: After the woman yawns, sneezes, feels pain near her stomach or in her lower abdomen, secretes a discharge, or after a type of feverish shuddering overtakes her, or any other similar symptoms. Any woman who established a pattern for herself by experiencing one of the sensations three times before the onset of menstruation may be deemed to have a fixed menstrual cycle.
In explanation of the Mishna's statement that "any other similar symptoms" will also be considered a settled veset ha-guf, Abaye says "it was intended to include one who ate garlic and saw menstrual blood, one who ate onions and saw menstrual blood, and one who chewed pepper and saw menstrual blood." The Mishna needs to present a statement that includes eating these foods, since this experience is qualitatively different that the others listed in the Mishna. The Mishna describes involuntary physical events that cause a bodily reaction. Eating onions or garlic is a deliberate action that leads to a natural, albeit unintended outcome in this particular woman's case. In this way, this veset ha-guf also differs from voluntary activities such as jumping, which may also establish a veset ha-guf under certain circumstances (see daf 11). In many contexts, the effects of jumping would be considered an ones - something that is beyond an individual's control - while eating is such a natural event that any after-effects would not be considered an ones.
Nidda 62a-b: Cleansing Agents of the Talmudic Period
24/12/2019 - 26th of Kislev, 5780
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We have seen that a ketem causes a woman to be considered a nidda, and she is considered tameh. But how can one be certain that the stain is blood and not dye or paint? The Mishna on today's daf  discusses that question.
Seven substances must be applied to a stain: tasteless saliva, liquid from split beans, urine, natron, lye, Cimolian earth, and lion's leaf. If one immersed the stained garment and, having handled ritually pure things with it, applied to it the seven substances and the stain did not fade away it must be a dye; and the pure things remain pure and there is no need to immerse it again. If the stain faded away or grew fainter, it must be a bloodstain and the pure things are impure and it is necessary to perform immersion again.
This list of cleansing agents teaches us that during the period of the Mishna there were a large number of substances that were used to clean. Some broke down the stain by means of enzymes, like saliva or beans. Others were minerals, like natron (sodium carbonate decahydride Na2CO3-10H2O) or Cimolian earth - קימוניא - a heavy clay found commonly in the Aegean. Some were plants that were ground up or burned and their remains were used to clean, like lye - potash - and lion's leaf (Leonotis leonurus), a member of the mint family with mild psychoactive properties, could also be burned to produce potash. When the Mishna mentions "tasteless saliva" it refers to concentrated saliva, i.e. spittle that is found in one's mouth after a night of sleep, which has not been contaminated by food or drink. This saliva is rich in enzymes. These enzymes break up organic matter, which makes them effective as cleansing agents. The baraita teaches that there were other cleansing agents that could be used, as well. One of them is called ahal. Several plants in Israel are called ahal. One of them - ahal ha-gevishim (Mesembryantnenum cristalimum L.) - is an annual plant that grows among rocks and on walls that face the sea. This plant contains large amounts of soda, and was used for bathing and washing clothing.
Nidda 61a-b: The End of the First Temple Period
23/12/2019 - 25th of Kislev, 5780
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The Mishna on today's daf closes with a statement of Rabbi Meir that whenever there is a tradition that ritual impurity is found in a given place, we must assume that it is there until it is located and removed. The Sages argue that once a thorough search is performed, even if the source of the impurity is not located, we can assume that it is not there. The Gemara follows this discussion with a number of stories. In each one the source of the impurity is found only after a search had been completed, but the Gemara explains that in each case the search must have been inadequately performed. One of the stories relates to an incident at the close of the First Temple period. Abba Shaul taught that a large area at Beit Horon was reputed to be unclean, but an elderly man named Rabbi Yehoshua bar %Hananya knew of a way to clarify the matter, and he located a large pit full of bones. The Gemara continues:
That was the pit which Yishmael the son of Netaniah had filled with corpses, as it is written, "Now the pit where Yishmael cast all the dead bodies of the men whom he had slain by the side of Gedaliah." But was it Gedaliah that killed them? Was it not in fact Yishmael that killed them? Rather, since Gedaliah should have taken note of the advice of Yo%hanan the son of Karea%h and did not do so Scripture regards him as though he had killed them.
The story of Gedaliah's murder at the hands of Yishmael ben Netaniah is described at length in Chapters 40-41 in Sefer Yirmiyahu. After the destruction of the first Temple and the exile of the Judean leadership, the Babylonian king appointed Gedaliah as governor of the remnant of Jews who remained in the Land of Israel. It appeared that even with the Temple destroyed, there was still a future for the Jewish people in their homeland. With the encouragement of King Baalis of Amon, Yishmael ben Netaniah assassinated Gedaliah, who had been warned by his ally Yo%hanan ben Karea%h that he was marked for death by his enemies. Gedaliah's death was the final blow to the Jewish community, which chose to flee to Egypt, leaving the Land of Israel desolate. In commemoration of this event, the Fast of Gedaliah was established on the day after Rosh HaShana.
Nidda 60a-b: When a Bloodstain can be Attributed to Several Women
22/12/2019 - כ"ד כסלו תש"פ
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The Mishna on today's daf continues the discussion of ketamim which do not render a woman to be ritually unclean on a biblical level although according to the rabbinic ruling a woman who finds a ketem on her clothing must behave as if she is a nidda (see daf 53). The Mishna relates the following ruling:
If three women slept in a single bed and blood was found under one of them, they are all ritually impure. If one of them examined herself and was found to be impure, she alone is impure while the two others are pure.
We have already learned that the Sages tried to be lenient with regard to ketamim, since they are only rabbinic in nature (see daf 58). This helps us understand why if one of the three women was found to be unclean, the others can assume that the bloodstain was hers and not theirs. Nevertheless, many commentators ask why in the first case of the Mishna any of them should be deemed unclean. The general principle of the Sages is that, "Safek tumah be-reshut ha-rabbim, tahor" - doubtful impurity in a public place is considered ritually pure - and that a reshut ha-rabbim is defined as a place with at least three people. Based on these principles, the three women should constitute a public place, and the questionable ketem should be treated leniently for all. Many answers are offered to this question, among them:
  1. Three people do not always constitute a reshut ha-rabbim. If three people are in a hidden place - as is the case of three women in a bed - that would still be considered a private domain.
  2. The rule that doubtful impurity in a public place is considered ritually pure only applies when the impurity comes from the outside (e.g., we are unsure whether someone stepped over a grave), but does not apply when the impurity stems from the people themselves, as in the case of a ketem.
  3. Had the women presented their cases separately we may have applied these rules and declared them all pure. The situation, however, is where they all came together and we are forced to admit that any one of them could be the source of the ketem, so they are all declared ritually unclean.
Nidda 59a-b: More on Leniencies in the Laws of Bloodstains
20/12/2019 - כ"ב כסלו תש"פ
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We have learned that with regard to the laws of ketamim we try to be lenient and are willing to attribute them to some outside cause rather than declare the woman to be a nidda (see daf 58). The Mishna on today's daf teaches that we cannot always do so. According to the Mishna, if a woman lends her cloak to a non-Jewish woman or to a nidda and then finds a bloodstain on it, she is not rendered a nidda, as the stain can be attributed to the woman to whom she lent her cloak. If, however, three women shared a cloak and then a bloodstain was found on it, all three are rendered ritually impure. The difference between these cases is that in the first case we can rule leniently for the owner of the cloak without affecting the status of the other women, for they are, in any case, ritually impure. In the second case, however, we know for certain that one of these women must be rendered a nidda, at least on a rabbinic level. Were we to rule leniently on behalf of one or two of the women, it would determine that we must rule stringently regarding the third woman. The Mishna is not sufficiently clear regarding the first case, where the woman lends her cloak to non-Jewish woman or to a nidda. Rashi and the Rambam explain that the owner lends the cloak to the second woman and when it is returned she discovers the bloodstain after she has worn it herself. The Rashba argues that the owner first wore the cloak and then lent it to the second woman, discovering the bloodstain only when it is returned. According to the Meiri the owner first wore the cloak, lent it to the second woman, and then wore it again before finding the bloodstain. The %Hatam Sofer explains that Rashi may not disagree with the Rashba; he simply offers a case that is more novel than the others. He teaches that even in a situation where the bloodstain on the cloak is discovered in the owner's possession after she has worn it, it can still be attributed to the woman to whom it was lent.
Nidda 58a-b: Leniencies in the laws of Bloodstains
20/12/2019 - כ"ב כסלו תש"פ
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We have already learned about the Rabbinic ruling that a woman who finds a ketem on her clothing must behave as if she is a nidda even though on a Biblical level she is not rendered a nidda unless she experienced an actual flow of blood that is accompanied by a physical sensation (daf 53). The Mishna on today's daf teaches that since the rule of a ketem is rabbinic in its origin, if there is any other way to explain the bloodstain, the woman will remain in a state of ritual purity. Thus, if the woman was in a place where there was blood from slaughtered animals, or if she killed an insect or if her husband or son had been bleeding, we do not attribute the stain to menstruation and she remains pure. The Mishna relates:
A woman once came to Rabbi Akiva and said to him: ‘I saw a bloodstain.’ ‘Perhaps,’ he said to her, ‘there was a wound on your body?’ ‘Yes,’ she replied, ‘but it has healed.’ ‘Is it possible,’ he again asked her, ‘that it could open again and bleed?’ ‘Yes,’ she replied; and Rabbi Akiva declared her clean. Observing that his disciples looked at each other in astonishment he said to them, ‘why do you find this difficult, seeing that the Sages did not lay down the rule in order to impose restrictions but rather to relax them. ’
It is ordinarily the responsibility of the Sage sitting in judgment to ascertain the truth of a given matter. If the petitioner raises points that will lead to a lenient judgment they will be taken into consideration by the judge, but the judge will not make suggestions that will lead to such a conclusion. Rabbi Akiva's students were surprised that he openly led the woman in a direction that brought her to make statements that would lead to a lenient ruling. His explanation was that since the laws of ketem are rabbinic in origin, it is reasonable to find ways for leniencies regarding them.
Nidda 57a-b: The Trustworthiness of Samaritans
19/12/2019 - כ"א כסלו תש"פ
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On yesterday's daf  we learned that in general we trust Kutim with regard to areas of Jewish law that they accept, but we cannot trust them in areas of halakha that they reject. The Gemara on today's daf discusses examples of situations where Kutim may or may not be trusted. For example, they can be trusted to testify with regard to the marking of graves, even though there is no biblical command to establish gravesites. Nevertheless, since there is a passage in Sefer Ye%hezkel (39:15) that refers to a tombstone over a grave, the community of Kutim accepted that tradition. The term Kutim refers to the nations (not all of whom were truly Kutim, as there were people from other nations, as well) that were exiled to the Land of Israel by the kings of Assyria who were interested in populating the land after they had removed the Israelite people from it. Upon the return of the Jews to Israel at the beginning of the Second Temple period, the Samaritans, decedents of the Kutim, were active in trying to keep the returnees from rebuilding the Temple and the walls of the city of Jerusalem. Even so, there were families – including members of the kohanim – who intermarried with the Samaritans. During the following years there were continued tensions between the two communities, and Yo%hanan Hyrcanus led his troops into battle against the Samaritans and destroyed the temple that they had built on Har Gerizim. Nevertheless, there were also periods of cooperation, such as the period of the Bar Kokheva rebellion. As is clear in our Gemara, the attitude of the Sages towards them differed, although after a period of time a final conclusion was reached and they were ruled to be treated as non-Jews, due to their continued involvement with different types of idol worship. It is important to note that the Gemara in Yevamot concludes that while a beit din should not accept potential converts whose reason for converting is anything other than a sincere desire to join the Jewish People, nevertheless, if such a person does undergo a full conversion process they are considered Jewish according to halakha. It is possible that the Kutim did not fall into that category because they continued with their idolatrous practices even at the moment of their conversion. Nevertheless, today, the community of Samaritans living in Israel are no longer idol worshipers, and there has been some level of acceptance of them into the larger Jewish community.
Nidda 56a-b: Losing Track of a Grave
18/12/2019 - כ' כסלו תש"פ
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While continuing the discussion of the ritual status of a ketem (see daf 53) - the Mishna on today's daf segues to focus on the trustworthiness of Kutim with regard to these laws. For example, the Mishna relates that they are trusted when they state definitively that they buried a still-born child in a certain place or that they did not do so, and similarly they can be trusted to testify regarding the marking of graves. They cannot be trusted, however, regarding a question that comes up having to do with overhanging boughs or protrusions that jut out of stone fences under which there might be a grave. Similarly they cannot be trusted regarding determining a field as a beit haperas. The law of a beit haperas teaches that a field that has doubtful status regarding ritual defilement of a dead body must be treated stringently. When we know that there was a grave in a given field, when that field is plowed the doubtful ritual status may be created either because we fear that the plowing may have dislodged bones that now may be spread throughout the field or that the grave was "lost" and we cannot be certain where the body is buried. With regard to the source of this expression, Rashi and Tosafot agree that the word peras means "broken" and that we fear that the original grave and its contents have been broken by the plowing. According to the Rambam, the term peras means "spread out," since we treat the field as if the ritual defilement is spread across the entire field. Others suggest that the source may be Greek expressions meaning "courtyard" or a place that cannot be crossed. The Mishna explains that in general we trust Kutim with regard to areas of Jewish law that they accept, but we cannot trust them in areas of halakha that they reject.
Nidda 55a-b: Eye Applications
17/12/2019 - י"ט כסלו תש"פ
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Aside from the discussion about menstrual blood and corpses, the Mishna on yesterday's daf also discusses other sources of ritual defilement and whether they transmit impurity when they are both wet and dry. For example, the bodily secretions of a zav -a man suffering from a venereal disease - that transmit ritual impurity, including semen, mucous from the nose or mouth and spittle, will only render someone tameh if they are wet and not if they have dried out. In the course of discussing why tears are not included in this discussion and are not considered a secretion that renders one tameh, the Gemara quotes the following statements of early Babylonian amora’im:
Rav stated: He who wishes to blind his eye shall have it painted by a gentile, and Levi stated: He who wishes to die shall have his eyes painted by a gentile.
The makeup mentioned by Rav and Levi was, apparently, a popular eye application that was used during Talmudic times. Kohl appears to be a black-blue color that was derived from the mineral stibnite (Sb2S3). The stibnite crystals were ground up and women would use them to color the area around their eyes to emphasize them and make them appear larger; apparently it was also used for medicinal purposes. According to the Talmud Yerushalmi, Rav did not use this type of eye application, while Levi did make use of it. Based on this, the Pnei Moshe explains that Rav was less familiar with the procedure and unaware of the greater danger that it contained. The concern expressed by the contemporaries Rav and Levi regarding the possibility of poisoning by non-Jews may be based on the political upheaval that took place during their lifetimes in Babylonia, with the overthrow of the Parthian Empire that had offered autonomy to the flourishing Jewish community. At first the Sassanid Empire was antagonistic towards the Jews, although that soon changed with the friendship that developed between Shmuel and King Shevor Malka.
Nidda 54a-b: The Ritual Impurity of Menstrual Blood
16/12/2019 - י"ח כסלו תש"פ
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When we talk about the laws of ritual impurity as it related to nidda, there are two separate elements that must be discussed. On the one hand, a menstruating woman becomes ritually impure, a situation that forbids her from consuming kodashim, entering the Temple precincts, and so forth. On the other hand, the menstrual blood itself is ritually impure and someone who comes into contact with it becomes tameh. The connection between these two elements of ritual impurity is unclear. According to some, these two things are intimately related, so that menstrual blood is only ritually impure if the woman is rendered a nidda. In the event that the flow of menstrual blood does not render the woman a nidda, for example if the blood was not secreted directly from the vaginal area but was removed in some other way, then the blood would not be tameh. Others argue that these should be viewed separately, and even if the woman is not ritually impure, nevertheless the menstrual blood is tameh. The seventh perek of Massekhet Nidda, which begins on today's daf  focuses on the status of the menstrual blood itself, dealing with such questions as whether the blood must be in a liquid state – parallel to the bodily secretions of a zav that are only ritually impure when they are wet – in order to be considered tameh. According to the Mishna on today's daf, menstrual blood is similar to the flesh of a corpse, and both of them will be considered ritually impure whether they are wet or dry. The Mishna makes no distinction with regard to the level of dryness, but in the continuation of the Gemara on tomorrow's daf we find a disagreement on this matter. Reish Lakish rules that if human flesh dries out to the extent that it flakes apart, it will no longer be tameh; Rabbi Yo%hanan disagrees, ruling that under all circumstances it remains tameh. It is not clear whether or not the same disagreement applies to menstrual blood, as well.
Nidda 53a-b: Do Bloodstains Indicate Menstruation?
15/12/2019 - י"ז כסלו תש"פ
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When describing the ritual impurity associated with a nidda, the Torah teaches in Sefer Vayikra (15:19) "And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be in her impurity seven days; and whoever touches her shall be unclean until the even." This passage is understood to mean that there must be an actual flow of blood that is accompanied by a physical sensation. For this reason, if a woman were to discover a ketem (stain) on her clothing, according to Torah law she will not be rendered a nidda. Nevertheless, for a variety of reasons, the Sages of the Mishna ruled that in such a situation, when a ketem is discovered on clothing, the woman is deemed to be a nidda on a Rabbinic level. The Gemara on today's daf discusses the relationship between a ketem and the actual flow of blood -
Our Rabbis taught: If a woman observed first a bloodstain and then she observed a discharge of blood she may for a period of twenty-four hours ascribe her stain to her observation; so said Rabbi [Yehuda HaNasi]. Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar ruled: Only during the same day.
According to Rabbi, the woman's state of ritual uncleanness does not extend retroactively to the time the article had been washed but begins at the time the stain was found, as long as the two events took place during a single 24-hour period. Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar agrees that the two events can be related, but limits that ruling to a situation where both took place during the same day. In his %Hokhmat Betzalel, Rabbi Betzalel Ranschberg points out that there is no clear ruling with regard to this question and that none of the codifiers relate to it in any way. He explains that according to the current custom this question is not a practical one, since the ruling of Rabbi Zeira that women always wait seven clean days after seeing any spot of blood.
Nidda 52a-b: Punishing an Enemy
13/12/2019 - ט"ו כסלו תש"פ
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According to the Talmudic Sages, one of the indications of physical maturity is the appearance of two pubic hairs. In a segue from the halakhic discussion of this topic, the Gemara quotes a passage from the Sefer Iyyov in which Iyyov complains: "He crushes me with a tempest, and multiplies my wounds without cause" (Iyyov 9:17). The Gemara brings Rava's explanation of this pasuk .
Iyyov blasphemed with a tempest and he was answered with a tempest. He ‘blasphemed with a tempest’, saying to Him, ‘Master of the Universe, perhaps a tempest passed before You and You confused "Iyyov" with "Oyev" [enemy]?’ ‘He was answered with a tempest’: Then the Lord answered Iyyov out of the whirlwind, and said to him, ‘Greatest imbecile in the world! I have created many hairs on a person's head and for every hair I have created a distinct follicle, so that two should not draw sustenance from the same follicle, for if two were to draw sustenance from the same follicle they would weaken a man's vision. If I did not confuse one follicle with another, would I confuse "Iyyov" and "Oyev"?’
In his Ben Yehoyadah, Rav Yosef %Hayyim quotes the Ari as explaining that Iyyov's punishment was tzora'at (see Iyyov 2:7). Based on a word-play from a passage in Sefer Shemot (15:6) we can determine that the appropriate punishment for an enemy is tzora'at, since the pasuk reads: "Your right hand, O LORD, tir'atz oyev - dashes in pieces the enemy," and the letters making up the word tir'atz can be rearranged into tzora'at. This connects with a teaching that appears in the Zohar that claims that Iyyov was the adviser to the Egyptian Pharaoh who recommended that the Children of Israel should be enslaved (in contrast with the position of the Gemara in Massekhet Sota, daf 11a that Iyyov remained silent when asked what should be done to the Jews). For this reason, Iyyov felt that he may have been taken for an enemy of God.
Nidda 51a-b: Kosher Fish
13/12/2019 - ט"ו כסלו תש"פ
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 Torah teaches that in order for a fish to be kosher it must have fins (senapir) and scales (kaskeset - see Vayikra 11:9-12). This rule is stated both as a positive commandment (verse 9) and a negative commandment (verse 12). Senapirim – fins – are bony protuberances that extend from the stomach of a fish on its side that serve as "oars" for the fish. The other fins – on the top of the fish and on its tail, do not move. Kaskasim – scales – are flat knobs or protrusions stretched out across the body of the fish that cover it like a coat of mail. There are different types of scales that are unique to a given type of fish based on their shape, how they are connected to the body of the fish, and so forth. Some fish – including certain types of tuna – lose their scales as they age, but remain kosher fish. The Mishna on today's daf teaches that all fish that have scales also have fins, but a fish might have fins, yet not have scales. Thus, if it has scales it will also have fins and it is a kosher fish; if it has fins without scales the fish is not kosher. According to Tosafot, this rule is a tradition handed down from the first man, Adam, who examined each and every living creature when he named them (see Bereishit 2:20) – or, perhaps, this is a tradition handed down from Moshe on Mount Sinai. At various times in history, creatures with scales but no fins were brought before the Rabbinic leadership to determine their status, given that the animal appeared to negate the principle taught in this Mishna. In his Ma'adanei Yom Tov, Rav Yom Tov Lippman Heller argued that this rule applied only to fish and not to other sea creatures. Rav Yonatan Eibeshutz suggests that when the Mishna says that there are no animals with scales but no fins it simply means that the vast majority of fish with scales have fins, as well. In the whole of nature we are bound to find exceptions to every rule and the principle that was taught is referring to the majority of cases.
Nidda 50a-b: Biblical Concerns About the Corner of a Field
12/12/2019 - י"ד כסלו תש"פ
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Mishna on today's daf teaches:
Any produce from which one is obligated to designate pe'a is also subject to tithes; and there is produce from which one is obligated to separate tithes but from which one is not obligated to designate pe'a.
The obligation of pe'a - literally "corner" - that requires leaving a part of the field for the poor to harvest, is based on the passage in Sefer Vayikra (19:9) "When you reap the harvest...you shall not wholly reap the corner of your field...you shall leave them for the poor." The Gemara teaches that there are a number of general principles concerning pe'a:
Anything that is food, is protected, grows from the earth, is gathered at the same time, and is taken in for storage is subject to pe'a.
Each of these rules limits the obligation of pe'a such that the Gemara teaches:
  • 'Anything that is food,' excludes the growths of woad and safflower, which are not intentionally planted;
  • ‘is protected,’ excludes hefker (ownerless crops);
  • ‘grows from the earth,’ excludes mushrooms and truffles;
  • ‘is gathered at the same time,’ excludes the fig tree;
  • and ‘is taken in for storage,’ excludes vegetables.
Regarding tithes, however, the Gemara teaches:
Anything that is food, is protected, and from the earth is subject to the obligation of tithes.
The rules requiring that harvest take place at the same time and that it is taken in for storage are not mentioned. Thus, figs and vegetables are not subject to the requirements of pe'a, but are subject to tithes. The reason that figs are not considered a fruit whose harvest takes place at the same time is because figs are unique in that they do not all ripen on the tree at the same time. Every day - and even at different hours throughout the day - individual fruits will ripen based on how heat and sunlight hits the tree. For this reason it is commonplace to find that the fruit on the eastern and southern parts of the tree are harvested first, since they get the most direct sunlight.
Nidda 49a-b: The Role of Women in the Jewish Courtroom
11/12/2019 - י"ג כסלו תש"פ
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 last Mishna on today's daf -
Any person who is fit to adjudicate a case and serve as a judge is fit to testify as a witness, and there are those who are fit to testify but are not fit to adjudicate.
The discussion that is engendered by this statement relates to the role of women in the Jewish courtroom. It appears that women can act as judges, inasmuch Devorah the prophetess served in that capacity, as is clearly stated in Sefer Shoftim (4:4) "Now Devorah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidot, she judged Israel at that time." At the same time, women are not ordinarily accepted as witnesses (as we learned on yesterday's daf, there are some circumstances when we will accept their statement, more for purposes of clarifying information than as actual testimony).
  1. In their first answer Tosafot explain simply that our Mishna is only referring to men. Any man who can act as a judge can serve as a witness, while there are some men who can act as witnesses but cannot serve as judges.
  2. In their second answer Tosafot argue that Devorah was a unique case, since she acted as a judge with Heavenly approval.
  3. In their third answer Tosafot suggest that Devorah did not truly act as a judge, rather she taught the laws of judgment to the Jewish people.
The Ran offers a different approach. According to the Ran, Devorah actually was a judge, but she served in this capacity only because she was accepted as a judge by the Jewish people, much as litigants can agree to allow a relative to serve as a judge in their case. Such a position does not give Devorah, or, indeed any other woman, the ability to act as a witness. In his commentary, the Arukh LaNer argues that there are hints to all of these different explanations in the story of Devorah that appears in Sefer Shoftim.
Nidda 48a-b: Determining Physical Maturity
10/12/2019 - י"ב כסלו תש"פ
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Mishna on today's daf continues the discussion of how to establish physical maturity for the purpose of deciding whether a woman whose husband has passed away without children will be subject to the laws of yibum. As we learned on yesterday's daf, the development of secondary female sex characteristics - including the development of pubic hair and breasts - will determine whether or not the girl is considered an "adult" for these purposes. On occasion, it was necessary to examine a young woman to determine her status. The challenge that is faced is how such an examination would be performed. It is obvious that it would be inappropriate for a Rabbi - or, in fact, any man - to do this. The Gemara relates that the Sages would arrange for trustworthy women to perform this examination. Rabbi Eliezer would have his wife perform such an examination; Rabbi Yishmael would have his mother do it. Regarding issues relating to the laws of marriage, divorce, etc., Jewish law ordinarily requires two acceptable witnesses in order to establish fact. Since the decision to establish the status of this woman as an adult can impact on these areas, a major focus of discussion among the commentaries is how the testimony of women, who are not ordinarily accepted as witnesses, is accepted in this case. One suggestion is that a statement about pubic hair is not, itself, testimony, but merely an observation that in any case will be clarified by others in the future. Nevertheless the Ritva points out that it is appropriate to find women who are know to be reliable and upstanding - which may be why the Gemara emphasized that various Sages appointed women who they knew well and felt that they could trust them to do this sensitive job. There is some disagreement as to whether or not women who are related to the person being examined can play this role. Rabbeinu Tam rules that since we do not view it as actual testimony, we can rely on relatives. In his responsa, the Maharam disagrees.
Nidda 47a-b: Delayed Development of Secondary Female Sex Characteristics
09/12/2019 - י"א כסלו תש"פ
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Mishna on today's daf introduces the category of an ailonit. An ailonit is a sexually underdeveloped woman whose physical makeup will not allow her to have children (the term stems from the word ayil - a male ram - alluding to her lack of femininity). An ailonit does not become a yevama because the point of yibum, as clearly stated in the Torah, is to bear children in order to keep the dead brother "alive" (see Devarim 25:6, which states that the first child to be born will be named for the late brother). From the detailed discussions in the Gemara – mainly in Massekhet Yevamot – it appears that an ailonit suffers from a genetic defect that does not allow her to have children. This is a different categorization than an akara – a barren woman – whose physical and sexual development is ordinarily normal, but who cannot have children because of some other deficiency or impediment. From those descriptions it appears that an ailonit can be recognized by certain unique physical traits, including a lack of secondary sex characteristics, like pubic hairs. Furthermore, it appears from the Gemara that there are different types of ailonit, ranging from women who have an overabundance of male hormones to those who suffer from Turner syndrome, where only one X chromosome is present and fully functioning. Approximately 98% of all fetuses with Turner syndrome spontaneously abort; the incidence of Turner syndrome in live female births is believed to be about 1 in 2500. Within Jewish law there are many discussions about the status of an ailonit, mainly because of the lack of secondary female sex characteristics and because they develop at a relatively advanced age. Thus we find questions about when an ailonit is considered to have reached the age of adulthood, which halakha ordinarily defines as physical maturity.
Nidda 46a-b: Agricultural Laws in Israel Today
08/12/2019 - י' כסלו תש"פ
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 on today's daf (introduces us to a baraita that appears in Seder Olam that teaches from the passage in Sefer Devarim (30:5) asher yarshu avotekha ve-yerishtah - "into the land that your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it" - that there are only two times that the Land of Israel is sanctified in history. In other words, aside from the sanctification that took place when Yehoshua brought the children of Israel in from the desert, the only other sanctification that was necessary occurred when Ezra brought the Jews back from exile. That second sanctification lasts forever. The question of the status of the Land of Israel after the destruction of the second Temple is one that both tannaim and amoraim grapple with, and about which the rishonim do not come to a clear conclusion. Nevertheless, we can reach certain conclusions in specific areas of discussion. It is clear that the basic sanctity of the Chosen Land lasts forever, and that no other country can replace it. The question is whether that basic level of sanctity is all that is necessary for the rules of the Holy Land to apply, or is there a need for other factors, as well. For example: · Do we need the Temple to be standing? · Do we need the majority of world Jewry to be living there? · Do we need autonomous Jewish rule in the land? According to many opinions, the rules of shemita, have not operated on a biblical level since the exile of the ten tribes, while the first Temple was still standing, and even during the period of the second Temple, the rule of agricultural commandments were kept only a Rabbinic level. Regarding terumot and ma'asrot, the Rambam views the obligation today - and even during the second Temple period - as being of rabbinic origin, while the Ra'avad believes that Ezra's arrival gave sanctity to the Land that included an obligation in tithes, and that obligation remains to this day.
Nidda 45a-b: Talmudic Birth Control
06/12/2019 - ח' כסלו תש"פ
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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One of the basic sources in the Talmud dealing with issues of birth control appears on our daf .
Rav Beivai taught a baraita before Rav Na%hman.  Three categories of women may use a mokh [an absorbent cloth] while engaged in marital relations - a minor, a pregnant woman and a nursing woman. The minor, because she might become pregnant and as a result might die.
Rav Beivai explains why this is permissible:
A minor lest she become pregnant and die from the pregnancy; a pregnant woman lest she become pregnant a second time and cause the older fetus to become deformed into the shape of a sandal fish; and a nursing woman, because she might have to wean her child prematurely, which may result in its death. What is the age of such a minor? From the age of eleven years and one day until the age of twelve years and one day. One who is under or over this age must carry on her marital intercourse in the usual manner. This is the opinion of Rabbi Meir. The %hakhamim say that all women should carry on marital intercourse in the usual manner, and heaven will have mercy on them (i.e. no harm will come to them), based on the passage that states (Tehillim 116:6) "HaShem preserves the simple."
The rishonim differ as to how to understand this baraita and what its implications are for the halakha. According to Rashi, the discussion is whether a woman can insert a physical barrier into her vaginal canal as a means of birth control. Rabbi Meir's position is that a woman who has reason to fear that pregnancy will result in a danger to her or to her unborn child is permitted to do so, although it would be forbidden to other women. Tosafot and others reject Rashi's explanation, arguing that inserting a mokh during relations would be forbidden. They suggest that the mokh is an absorbent cloth that is inserted following sexual relations in an attempt to remove the semen. According to Rabbi Meir, a minor as well as a pregnant or nursing woman would be obligated to use this mokh in an attempt to keep a potentially dangerous pregnancy from developing (a method that is recognized today as being of limited use, if any), while other women would be permitted to do so.
Nidda 44a-b: Determining "Time of Death"
06/12/2019 - ח' כסלו תש"פ
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In the context of a discussion of how the status of a one-day-old baby can affect inheritance laws, the Gemara states that the discussion only has significance if the baby had already been born. According to Jewish law, an unborn fetus is not able to inherit, nor can others inherit him. The Gemara explains that the fetus must have died before its mother has died, so that it cannot be considered a viable person. A simple explanation for the Gemara's statement is that a developing embryo relies on its mother for nourishment, oxygen and so forth, and its status depends on the proper functioning of her body. If the mother is suffering from a terminal illness, or even sudden death, it is likely that the embryo will begin to suffer from faulty circulatory blood flow, leading to the embryo's demise. In response to this statement, the Gemara counters that in an actual case the fetus was seen to have a number of convulsions after the mother had already died. The Gemara explains that this is like the tail of a lizard that continues to twitch even after it is removed from the body of the lizard, i.e. that such involuntary convulsions are not a sign of life. After the limb of a living creature is separated from the body, the nerves of that limb continue to operate in an uncontrolled manner for a short time due to the continued functioning of the neurotransmitters that still send out signals to the limb. Although the muscles continue to flex in response to these neurological signals, this is not necessarily an indication of life. In contemporary discussions about establishing a working definition of "time of death" and the possibility that "brain death" – a cessation of all recorded brain-stem activity – may be viewed as halakhic death, the Mishna in Massekhet Oholot that discusses the ramifications of cutting off one's head serves as a key source from the Talmud, opening the possibility of harvesting organs for transplant purposes*. *For insights into the halakha of organ donation, visit hods.org or download their 2010 paper written in conjunction with the Vaad Halacha of the Rabbinical Council of America.
Nidda 43a-b: Contrasting Between Different Types of Ritual Impurity
05/12/2019 - ז' כסלו תש"פ
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When discussing laws of ritual purity, it is important to note that there are many differences between different types of tum'ah. The Gemara on today's daf focuses on some of these differences. For example, we find that the Gemara contrasts between the ritual impurity imparted by shikhvat zera - semen - and that of a sheretz - a creeping animal. While secreting even a tiny amount of semen would render a person impure, when coming into contact with a sheretz, a minimum size of a lentil is necessary for the person to become tameh. Generally, any one of rodents, lizards, insects or other small creatures that crawl would be considered a sheretz. Ritual impurity is imparted by the carcasses of eight creeping animals (Vayikra 11:29-37). The Sages stated that the smallest of these eight animals was at least the size of a lentil's bulk at birth. Therefore, one only contracts ritual impurity if he comes into contact with a piece of the carcass of a creeping animal no smaller than that size. The Gemara quotes a baraita that teaches that another difference between shikhvat zera and sheretz is that shikhvat zera is "divided in its ritual defilement" while sheretz is not. In explaining this, the Gemara says that it cannot mean that the laws of ritual defilement of shikhvat zera apply only to Jews and not to non-Jews, since we find a similar division in the laws of sheretz; a "land-mouse" imparts ritual impurity, while a "sea-mouse" does not. The Gemara concludes that the ritual purity laws of shikhvat zera apply only to adults, while the laws of sheretz are applicable even to new-born creatures. We know that a "land mouse" is mus musculus - an ordinary house mouse. There is some discussion about how to identify a "sea mouse." Some suggest that it is a type of snail, while Rashi argues that it is a fish that is similar in appearance to a mouse. According to the Gemara in Massekhet %Hullin (daf 126b ) the Torah limits the laws of sheretz to animal that live on the land (see Vayikra 11:29), excluding water-based animals.
Nidda 42a-b: Circumcision on Shabbat
04/12/2019 - ו' כסלו תש"פ
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 Torah requires every male child to be circumcised on the eighth day after he is born. The obligation to perform circumcision on the eighth day is so powerful, that it will be done on Shabbat, even though it involves activities that are ordinarily prohibited. Performing circumcision on Shabbat, however, is only done if that is the eighth day. If a baby could not have a brit mila performed on time for health reasons, we will not do the circumcision on Shabbat. Similarly, if there is some doubt as to whether the baby was born on Shabbat, we will postpone the brit until after Shabbat. The Gemara on today's daf relates a story that deals with some of these issues.
A certain person once came before Rava and asked him, ‘Is it permissible to perform a circumcision on the Sabbath?’ ‘One may well do so,’ he replied. After the man left, Rava considered: Is it likely that this man did not know that it was permissible to perform a circumcision on the Sabbath? He thereupon followed him and said to him, ‘How did the incident itself happen?’ The man said to Rava ‘I heard the child making a noise at nightfall on Shabbat eve but it was not born until Shabbat.’ Rava said to him 'This is a baby who put his head out of the corridor [i.e. he is considered to have been born already on Friday, otherwise his voice would not have been heard]. Consequently, [he should be circumcised the following Friday and if he is circumcised after that] his circumcision is one that does not take place at the proper time, and with regard to a circumcision that does not take place at the proper time the Shabbat may not be desecrated.
The reason that Rava rules that the baby should not be circumcised on Shabbat, but did not say that the brit should take place on Friday is clear from the version of this story that appears in the She'iltot. There it is told that the child's cry was not heard on Friday afternoon, rather bein ha-shemashot - during the twilight period when it is not clear whether or not Shabbat has begun. Rava's ruling was that the baby may have been born on Friday and cannot be circumcised on Shabbat (which would not be the eighth day, but the ninth). At the same time, the baby cannot be circumcised on Friday, since the birth may have taken place on Shabbat (which would make Friday the seventh day). Thus there is no choice but to postpone the brit until Sunday.
Nidda 41a-b: Caesarean Sections and Sanctified Animals
03/12/2019 - ה' כסלו תש"פ
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 fifth perek of Massekhet Nidda discusses this question of a yotze dofen - a child born by means of a Caesarean section. According to the Tanna Kamma the laws of tum'at leida do not apply to the mother. Rabbi Shimon disagrees, arguing that with regard to these laws, it is treated like any ordinary birth. Does Rabbi Shimon believe that a fetus born of a Caesarean section is always considered to be ordinary? Rabbi Yo%hanan argues that with regard to kodashim - sanctified animals - Rabbi Shimon agrees with the Sages that an animal born in this manner will not be considered an ordinary birth. The biblical passages that serve as the sources for this ruling teach about two different types of sanctification. First, if a female animal that was sanctified gives birth, ordinarily its offspring would have the same type of sanctification that the mother does. When born of Caesarean section, the animal does not receive its mother's sanctification. Additionally, when an ordinary animal is born of a Caesarean section, it is considered to be a blemished animal and cannot be sanctified for sacrifice on the altar. With regard to the first issue - that the offspring of a sanctified animal does not retain its mother's holiness - Rashi explains that the animal has no intrinsic sanctification (kedushat ha-guf), although it is considered to be consecrated for its value (kedushat damim); it is like other cases where an animal was already blemished before it was consecrated. In such cases only the value of the animal becomes sanctified, and after it is redeemed it can be used for any purpose. The Ritva points out that there are other cases where an animal cannot be brought as a sacrifice, yet it retains a higher level of intrinsic sanctification. In the case of a tereifa, for example, the animal is considered consecrated, can only be redeemed if it develops a permanent blemish, and it retains certain laws of sanctification even after it is redeemed. Surely the case of a yotze dofen should be no less severe than that of a tereifa!? He explains that, in fact, with regard to the laws of sanctification, we view a yotze dofen as similar to a miscarriage, which precludes from it levels of sanctification that even a tereifa can attain.