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

Ketubot 46a-b: Rights and Responsibilities
21/08/2022 - 24th of Av, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Mishna on our daf teaches that while a young woman lives in her father's house he has rights and responsibilities with regard to her, most of which are passed on to her husband when she marries. Among the father's rights we find:
  • He can marry her off,
  • Money that she earns or finds will belong to him,
  • Upon hearing that she has made a vow, he can cancel it,
  • He can receive divorce papers on her behalf.
Once she marries, her husband will have the right to derive benefit from property that she owns (which the father cannot do). The husband is obligated to feed her, to redeem her from captivity (should that unfortunate occurrence take place) and, should she die, must arrange her burial. Rabbi Yehuda teaches that even the poorest Jew must minimally arrange for two flutes and a mekonenet – a professional wailer for the funeral. During the time of the Mishna, flutes were considered an essential part of the funeral ceremony, to the extent that special dispensation was given to have them brought even in circumstances where there were halakhic problems that had to be overcome. In more recent times this tradition has fallen out of favor, apparently because it was seen as being a non-Jewish custom. According to the Gemara, the Tanna Kamma agrees with Rabbi Yehuda that the husband is obligated to ensure that all traditions are kept at his wife's funeral. The difference between them is in a case where the husband and wife come from different social strata. Without question, when the husband comes from a higher class family, during her lifetime he must treat her with all of the honor due to someone of that class – in the language of the Gemara, "Olah imo ve-einah yoredet imo." When she has passed away, however, does this still apply? Rabbi Yehuda rules that it does, and he must hire flutes and a mekonenet, if that is his family's tradition.
Ketubot 45a-b: The Defamer is Flogged
20/08/2022 - 23rd of Av, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
One of the common punishments meted out by Jewish courts of law is malkot – lashes. According to the Torah, most sins that are committed by performing a forbidden action will be punished by a public flogging (see Devarim 25:1-3). The Sages interpret the passage to mean that once convicted, the individual receives 39 lashes in sets of three. A physician is on hand throughout the process to ensure that the lashes will not kill the person, and the punishment will be stopped if such a concern exists. Our Gemara discusses the case of a motzi shem ra – someone who defames or falsely accuses his wife of having committed adultery between their betrothal and marriage (see Devarim 22:13-19). According to the Torah, if the investigation shows that his wife is innocent, he will be punished by malkot, paying a penalty of 100 kesef and will not be allowed to divorce her. Rabbi Yehuda is quoted in a baraita as saying that under all circumstances the husband gets malkot, a statement that is interpreted by the Gemara to mean that whether or not the husband and wife have had sexual relations, he will get malkot if he is found to be a motzi shem ra; if they had relations they will be biblically mandated malkot, while if they had not had relations they will be makat mardut mi-derabbanan – lashes applied by a rabbinic decree. Rav Hai Gaon defines the term mardut as the Aramaic translation of the term mussar – rebuke (see, for example Onkelos' translation to Vayikra 26:28). The ge'onim explain that this type of malkot do not have the same restrictions as those mandated by the Torah. They are not given in sets of three, they are not necessarily carried out with a double strap, and there is no requirement for constant medical supervision of the situation. Makat mardut mi-derabbanan are given without a specific limit. While the Arukh claims that the individual receiving them was often beaten to death, the Ramah teaches that they were always a third of the lashes mandated by the Torah. According to the Ritva, there were different types of makat mardut mi-derabbanan. In cases where a person committed a one time forbidden act, they were limited, although they could be more than the biblically mandated ones. In cases where a person repeatedly committed a crime, they might be given with no limit whatsoever.
Ketubot 44a-b: The Rule of the Neighbor
19/08/2022 - 22nd of Av, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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One would imagine that when selling a field, the seller can choose whichever buyer he wants. In fact, the Sages rule that there is one person who gets preference over any other buyer – a neighbor. The Gemara has a concept that it calls dina d'bar mitzra – the rule of the neighbor. According to dina d'bar mitzra, if a person sells his field, the person who owns the neighboring field has first rights to purchase it, and in the event that it was sold to another, he has the right to remove the purchaser from the field (obviously he will have to compensate the purchaser for the money that he put out in his attempt to obtain rights to the field). This law is based on the passage ki ta’aseh ha-tov ve-ha-yashar (Devarim 12:28) – literally, "you should do what is good and what is straight" when involved in business transactions. Since it makes no difference to the seller who pays him for the field, and it certainly does make a difference to the neighbor who wants to purchase the land (since it is easier to work and guard one large piece of land than two smaller ones that are separate from one another) it would be middat Sedom – a characteristic of the city of Sedom (see Bereishit chapters 18-19) – to refuse to sell it to the individual who needs it more. Still, this rule applies only to the sale of land. If the owner of the land wants to give it as a present to someone, dina d'bar mitzra would not apply, since the owner may derive specific benefit from giving his land to a certain person as a gift. Although our Gemara appears to suggest that a person can avoid the rule of dina d'bar mitzra by writing a shtar matanah – a document that shows a transaction to be a gift – after the sale is complete, in fact from Rav Hai Gaon onwards, the majority of the poskim rule that if the neighbor is aware of the fact that the field was sold and can show the contract of sale, the fact that a second contract was written attesting to the transfer of the field as a present will not remove the rule of dina d'bar mitzra from being applied.
Ketubot 43a-b: Formal Ordination
18/08/2022 - 21st of Av, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
According to Jewish law, when a young woman is living at home and is supported by her father, any money that she earns belongs to her father. What is the halakha when the father has passed away and she is being supported by her brothers? Do they also deserve to receive her earnings? Our Gemara brings a teaching that clearly states that in such a case she keeps her earnings. The Gemara offers two possibilities on the author of this statement. It is either: Rav Zeira quoting Rav Mattana; or Rabbi Zeira quoting Rav Mattana. What is the difference between these two traditions? Generally speaking, the difference between the title "Rav" and "Rabbi" is whether or not the Sage in question has received semikha – formal ordination. Biblically, only those sages who receive formal ordination from their teachers can act as judges for all Torah laws, for they belong to a chain of tradition stretching back to the court of Moses. Towards the end of the second Temple period, this formal ordination was recognized by bestowing the title "Rabbi" on its recipients. The Gemara in Massekhet Sanhedrin teaches that semikha was only given in Israel, which meant that even great Sages who lived in Babylon were not properly ordained, and did not receive this title. They were simply called "Rav." Some Babylonian sages moved to Israel and retained the title "Rav," while others did receive semikha in Israel. Of these, some arrived in Israel at a young age and their teachings are always quoted with the title "Rabbi" before their name; others had already made a name for themselves before receiving semikha, and while we find that some of their teachings are quoted in their name with the title "Rabbi," others are still transmitted with the title "Rav." Rabbi Zeira was one of these sages, and we find here an example of the Gemara trying to establish whether this particular teaching dated from his younger years as a Babylonian scholar, or his later years after he had already received semikha in Israel.
Ketubot 42a-b: Paying the Penalty
17/08/2022 - 20th of Av, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
We have already learned that in the event that a young woman is raped, the perpetrator will have to pay a monetary penalty to her father (see Devarim 22:28-29). Obviously, once the money is paid to the father it belongs to him, and in the event of his death it will be part of the inheritance received by his sons. What if he dies before receiving the money? Will his sons inherit the unpaid penalty, or will the money be paid to the daughter? Although the Gemara quotes a baraita in which Rabbi Shimon rules that the money will be paid to the daughter, the Gemara is unable to find a source for this rule. Rava says that this was a question that both Rabba and Rav Yosef could not answer until Rav Yosef was appointed to head the academy, and he taught that it was derived from the passage in Sefer Devarim (22:29) that emphasizes that the perpetrator must give the money to the father – that is, the money does not belong to the father until he actually receives it. Rav Yosef's appointment to head the yeshiva in Pumbedita is described in Massekhet Horayot and Massekhet Berakhot. When Rav Yehuda passed away, the two obvious candidates to replace him were Rabba and Rav Yosef. Rabba, who was the younger of the two, was known for his sharp, insightful analysis, while Rav Yosef was known for his wide ranging knowledge. In an attempt to decide who should be chosen, the following question was sent to the Sages of the Land of Israel: "Which is better? Sinai (i.e. knowledge) or oker harim (literally 'one who uproots mountains,' i.e. sharp insight)?" Although the response from Israel was that "Sinai" was more essential, still Rav Yosef declined the position, and for the 22 years that Rabba was in the position of Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Yosef declined all honors. Only after Rabba's passing did Rav Yosef accept the position.
Ketubot 41a-b: Half the Damage
16/08/2022 - 19th of Av, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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When a person's property causes damage, obviously there is a need to pay restitution. Nevertheless, the Torah teaches that we distinguish between a shor mu'ad – an ox that has gored in the past – for which one pays full damages (nezek shalem), and a shor tam – an ox with no violent history – for which one pays for only half of the damage (hatzi nezek) that he caused. Our Gemara explains that Rav Pappa and Rav Huna, son of Rav Yehoshua offer different approaches to the law of hatzi nezek. According to Rav Pappa, every ox is potentially dangerous and the owner really should pay full damages. Since this is a "first offense," however, the Torah is lenient with him, and only obligates him to pay half of what he owes. Rav Huna believes that an ox that never showed any indication of violence does not need to be watched carefully, and because its behavior was unusual, its owner should not be obligated to pay any damages, at all. Nevertheless, the Torah imposed a penalty – a kenas – on the individual so that he should make sure to be more careful in the future. The Gemara concludes that we follow Rav Huna's opinion, and rule that hatzi nezek is a kenas. This leads to an interesting ruling. Unlike standard monetary rulings which are entrusted to all Jewish courts, penalties can only be applied by properly ordained judges. Since ordination was only given in the Land of Israel, cases involving kenas were not heard in Babylon. Thus the Gemara concludes that unusual cases of damage – like a dog eating a lamb or a cat eating a large chicken – would not be tried in Bavel. From stories that appear in the Talmud it would seem that during those times cats were not fully domesticated. Although people did keep cats in their homes to protect the inhabitants from rats and snakes, it was fairly common to hear of a cat that attacked domesticated birds and even babies in the house. Similarly, dogs were not kept as pets, rather they were guard dogs or used for shepherding. The cases mentioned in our Gemara are unusual specifically because the animals that were attacked were larger than normal.
Ketubot 40a-b: Additional Penalties
15/08/2022 - 18th of Av, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
We have learned that according to the Torah, when a young woman is raped or seduced, the perpetrator is required to pay a kenas – a penalty – to the girl's father (see Shemot 22:15-16; Devarim 22:28-29). The Mishna on our daf teaches that aside from that kenas, the woman also receives other payments due to her because of boshet and pegam – embarrassment and loss of personal value, similar to other cases of assault when these payments are made. The Mishna explains that although the kenas is a standard 50 shekalim for all women, the boshet and pegam can be any sum, which is decided by the courts based on the status of the perpetrator and the victim. In answer to the Gemara's query that we need to find a source to support the requirement to pay boshet and pegam – after all, the Torah makes no apparent mention of any payment aside from the 50 shekel kenas – Rabbi Zeira suggests that we do not need a biblical passage, as it is simply a logical argument that the daughter of a king should not receive the same 50 shekalim as a girl from a simple family. Both Abaye and Rava argue that there are pesukim from which this can be derived. Abaye, for example, points to Devarim 22:29, from which it is clear that the kenas is only payment for the inuy – the suffering that was imposed – implying that other payments are to be made, as well. Abaye rejects Rabbi Zeira's suggestion by pointing out that there are other cases in the Torah where the kenas is identical in two situations even though the value of the individual appears to be different. For example, when a non-Jewish slave is killed by a goring ox, the owner of the ox is obligated to pay 30 shekel to the owner of the slave (see Shemot 21:32). This is true whether the slave was trained to cut pearls or if he only knew how to mend simple garments. Pearls usually have a small hole drilled into them, which allows them to be strung. In order to ensure that the pearl is not ruined in the course of the drilling, great care must be taken by a well-trained artisan, who knows how to drill the hole with only minimal damage to the beauty of the stone. It is clear that the expert who knows how perform such tasks will be well-paid for his efforts, and a slave with these abilities would be a valuable asset to his master.
Ketubot 39a-b: Using Birth Control
14/08/2022 - 17th of Av, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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One of the basic sources in the Talmud that deals with issues of birth control appears on our daf:
Rav Beivai taught a baraita before Rav Nahman. It is permitted for three women to engage in relations with a contraceptive resorbent [mokh]. These are they: A minor, and a pregnant woman, and a nursing woman. The baraita elaborates: A minor may do so lest she conceive and die; a pregnant woman, lest her existing fetus be crushed by another fetus and assume the shape of a sandal fish if she conceives a second time; and a nursing woman, lest she conceive, causing her milk to spoil, which will lead her to wean her son prematurely, endangering his health. And the baraita further states: What is a minor girl? A minor girl is a girl from eleven years and one day old until twelve years and one day old. If she was less than that age or more than that age, she proceeds and engages in relations in her usual manner; this is the statement of Rabbi Meir. And the Rabbis say: Both this woman and that woman, i.e., in the cases of all these women, she proceeds and engages in relations in her usual manner, and from Heaven they will have mercy and prevent any mishap, due to the fact that it is stated: "The Lord preserves the simple" (Tehillim 116:6). Apparently a minor is unable to conceive.
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 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 such a mokh during relations would be forbidden according to all opinions. 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 today is recognized as being of limited use, if any), while other women would be permitted to do so.
Ketubot 38a-b: An Eye for an Eye
13/08/2022 - 16th of Av, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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In the course of discussing whether a person who commits an act that will theoretically obligate him to receive two separate punishments will only receive the more severe one, the Gemara quotes the teaching of Tanna dvei Rabbi Hizkiyya that a person who kills another as a consequence of poking out his eye will not be responsible for the eye and the murder. The source brought for this is the famous passage, "Ayin tahat ayin - an eye for an eye" (Shemot 21:24) – which is interpreted to limit the punishment. "An eye for an eye," but not "a life and an eye for an eye." The Torah's statement that we punish "an eye for an eye" is understood by the Sages to refer to a monetary obligation rather than a physical punishment. In a lengthy discussion that appears in Massekhet Bava Kamma (dapim 83-84), a number of Sages take turns responding to the Gemara's suggestion that perhaps the pasuk should be understood according to its simple meaning. All are in agreement that it is to be interpreted as payment, not losing an eye. In his Mishneh Torah (Hilkhot Hovel U'Mazik 1:3-6) the Rambam explains that the Torah chose to use this language, rather than simply state that personal injury will result in monetary compensation, in order to emphasize that someone who injures another really deserves to suffer the same injury that he inflicted on his fellow. This notwithstanding, the laws of the Torah only require restitution, and not corporeal punishment. In a clear attempt to dispel any doubts about this interpretation, the Rambam further states that this ruling was an oral tradition received by Moses on Mount Sinai, and that this was the practical ruling of the courts in the Land of Israel beginning with the time of Yehoshua and Shmu'el haRamati and continuing until contemporary times.
Ketubot 37a-b: The Three Month Waiting Period
12/08/2022 - 15th of Av, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Generally speaking, we require a woman to wait three months before getting married when it is necessary to clarify whether she is already carrying another man’s child. According to a baraita quoted on our daf, Rabbi Yehuda also applies this rule to a woman who converts, a woman who is freed from captivity, and a woman who is released from slavery. In all of these cases, Rabbi Yehuda rules that we must be concerned that in their former situations these women engaged in sexual relations – perhaps against their will – and therefore they may be pregnant. We must obligate them to wait three months before they can marry. Rabbi Yosei, on the other hand, permits them to marry immediately. Rabba explains Rabbi Yosei's position by saying that since these are all cases where the woman does not want to become pregnant, she will likely use a mokh – a contraceptive resorbent at the entrance of her womb that will keep her from conceiving. However, the woman who was held captive, for example, could not possibly prepare herself in such a way before she was raped?! Rather, Rabbi Yosei relies on the fact that the women turned themselves over in order to keep the semen from fully entering, so we need not be concerned that they became pregnant. Rabbi Yehuda is concerned that they do not turn themselves over well enough, and they may become pregnant anyway, their best efforts notwithstanding. From a medical point of view, "turning over," as described, would have no effect whatsoever on the chances of pregnancy. It is likely that Rabbi Yosei's intention is not simply for the women to turn over, but to take all preparations possible in order to avoid pregnancy, including herbs, drugs and so on. Rabbi Yehuda's concern is that there are few methods that can be used after sexual relations are over that can guarantee that no pregnancy will result.
Ketubot 36a-b: Paying Damages, Part II
11/08/2022 - 14th of Av, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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One example of a woman who, according to the baraita, will not receive a payment if she is seduced or raped, is an ailonit - 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). 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, as distinct from an akarah – a barren woman – whose physical and sexual development is ordinarily normal, but 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. With regard to the question of the monetary payment in a case of seduction or rape, our Gemara explains that the reason the baraita suggests that an ailonit does not receive payment is because she is perceived to be a ketana – a minor – according to Rabbi Meir. The hakhamim, who disagree with him and rule that a ketana receives these payments, would rule that an ailonit does, as well.
Ketubot 35a-b: Paying Damages, Part I
10/08/2022 - 13th of Av, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Our Gemara quotes a baraita that was taught in the study hall of Hizkiyya:
In the case of an animal that was damaged, the one who caused the damage is always held responsible to make restitution. That is to say, we do not distinguish between:
  • Shogeg and mayzid – whether it was done accidentally or on purpose
  • Mitkaven and ein mitkaven – whether or not it was done with intent
  • Derekh yeridah and derekh aliyah – whether the person was heading down or climbing up.
In all of these cases, the damage must be paid for.
Tosafot point out that these three specific cases refer to three separate topics in the laws of nezikim. The discussion of shogeg and mayzid refers to the question of whether the person was aware of what he was doing. From a legal perspective this means: had he been warned about the consequences of his actions before he carried them out? Mitkaven and ein mitkaven focus on whether there was full intent to carry out this action on this person, or perhaps, he meant to kill or injure one person and did it to another. The question of derekh yeridah or derekh aliyah is an issue specifically for galut – exile. According to the Torah, a person who kills accidentally will be free from capital punishment for murder, but will be obligated to move to one of the arey miklat where he will be protected from the go'el ha-dam – a relative of the dead man who can avenge the blood of his kin. The Torah teaches that the rule of exile applies only to cases where the accidental death took place derekh yeridah – e.g. when dropping something on the victim or falling on him. If it happened derekh aliyah, however, he need not go to galut to the ir miklat.
Ketubot 34a-b: Ritual Slaughter on Shabbat
09/08/2022 - 12th of Av, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In the context of discussing how halakha deals with actions that will lead to a person being responsible on two different levels – e.g. he will deserve both a death penalty and to pay as a consequence of what he did, our Gemara quotes a Mishna from Massekhet Hullin (14a) which teaches that a person who performs shehitah (ritual slaughter) of an animal on Shabbat or on Yom Kippur will receive the death penalty; nonetheless his shehitah will be considered good – the animal will be deemed kosher and can be eaten. Although this ruling is presented as a straightforward halakha, the rishonim are disturbed by the fact that we ordinarily deem a Shabbat transgressor as a meshumad – an apostate – whose shehitah should be considered invalid! Tosafot in Hullin argue that not every violation of Shabbat will give a person the status of a meshumad. In fact, only someone who willfully violates the Sabbath in a public manner would be put into that category. Apparently in our case the shehitah was done privately. Another suggestion raised by Tosafot is that hillul Shabbat would cause us to consider the transgressor a meshumad only after the act was done. Thus, the forbidden shehitah on Shabbat would be considered valid, even as it would create a situation where any subsequent shehitah done by this individual would not be accepted. In his commentary to the Mishna in Hullin, the Rambam takes a different approach, arguing that the person in this case performing the shehitah on Shabbat must have done so be-shogeg – by accident, i.e. he was unaware that it was Shabbat, or was not knowledgeable in the rules of Shabbat to know that shehitah was forbidden. It is clear that someone who accidentally transgresses the rules of Shabbat is not considered an apostate. Were he to have purposefully done shehitah on Shabbat, however, the meat would not be considered kosher.
Ketubot 33a-b: A Punishment More Severe than Death
08/08/2022 - 11th of Av, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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Which is the more severe punishment: mitah (a death penalty) or malkot (lashes)? Over the past few dapim, when discussing kim lei be-derabah minei, the rule that allows a person to receive only one punishment – the more severe one – when he commits an act for which he is liable to receive two separate punishments, we have worked with the assumption that the death penalty is more severe than malkot. Rav seems to suggest otherwise, and is quoted by Rav Ashi in questioning the assumption. In discussing the story of Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, who were Daniel's companions who refused to bow to Nebuchadnezzar's idol (see Daniel chapter 3) and as punishment were thrown into the fiery furnace, Rav suggests that had they been whipped, they would have relented and bowed to the idol. Thus it appears that malkot was deemed a more severe punishment than mittah. In response, the Gemara brings Rav Samma who distinguishes between the whipping that the three martyrs would have received as punishment that would have effectively been torture, and the lashes meted out by the Jewish courts, which were carefully controlled. He explains that the former may well have been considered a punishment worse than death, while the latter certainly are not. Rav's teaching was the subject of much discussion among the rishonim, who point out that the passage in keriyat shema that commands us to love God with all of our souls (see Devarim 6:5) would seem to obligate a person to offer himself up to torture rather than commit idolatry. Why then should we assume that Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah would have succumbed? The Rashba quotes Rashi (which does not appear in our editions of Rashi) that reads Rav's teaching as a rhetorical question – even if they had tortured Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, (i.e. they had given them a more severe punishment) would they have succumbed!? Most of the commentaries follow the lead of Tosafot and argue that Nebuchadnezzar's idol was not truly a case of avoda zara that is forbidden. Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were not really obligated to risk their lives, but they chose to do so in this case. Had they been tortured, however, they may have chosen to accept the letter of the law with regard to this halakha.
Ketubot 32a-b: Identifying the More Severe Punishment
07/08/2022 - 10th of Av, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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As we have learned, based on the Talmudic rule of kim lei be-derabah minei, according to Jewish law a person cannot receive two separate punishments for performing a single act. The halakha allows him to be punished only once, i.e. he will receive the more severe of the two punishments and be freed of the lesser punishment. Thus, if a person performs an act for which he would receive both capital punishments and either malkot or mamon – lashes or a monetary fine – he will not receive the lashes or the fine, as the capital punishment suffices as punishment for this act. It is clear that when one of the punishments for a specific act is the death penalty, that will be the only punishment that the person receives, but what if he deserves to receive lashes and a monetary fine for his act? Which of those two punishments is considered the more severe one? This question is the point of disagreement between Ulla and Rabbi Yohanan on our daf. According to Ulla, the appropriate punishment is to make the person pay; according to Rabbi Yohanan, assuming he was properly warned of the consequences of his actions, he will receive malkot. Even according to Rabbi Yohanan, however, there are cases in the Torah where an individual will be required to pay and will not receive malkot. Appropriate punishment in the case of hovel ba-haveiro – personal injury – which includes both malkot and mamon – will be to pay the damages. Only in a case where the damage was less than the value of a peruta (an amount so small that it cannot be returned) will malkot be given. Personal injury is considered a sin for which you deserve malkot because of the Talmud's interpretation of the passage in Devarim (25:3) that teaches that the court is obligated to punish a criminal with a specific number of lashes, but that more than that will be forbidden. The monetary obligation in such cases will be one or more of the five payments that the court may impose on the person who caused the injury:
  1. Nezek – loss of value for permanent damage incurred
  2. Tza'ar – pain and suffering
  3. Ripuy – medical bills
  4. Shevet – loss of wages during recovery
  5. Boshet – embarrassment incurred by the injury.
Ketubot 31a-b: The More Severe Punishment
06/08/2022 - 9th of Av, 5782
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Most of our daf focuses on the Talmudic rule of kim lei be-derabah minei – that is, a person who commits an act for which he is liable to receive two separate punishments, Jewish law will only allow him to be punished once, i.e. he will receive the more severe of the two punishments and be freed of the lesser punishment. Thus, if a person performs an act for which he would receive both capital punishments and lashes, he will not receive the lashes, as the capital punishment suffices as punishment for this act. Our Gemara examines the opinion of Rabbi Nehunya ben HaKana who rules that Shabbat and Yom Kippur are the same with regard to this halakha. In other words, he believes that when a person commits a crime for which the punishment is karet (excision from the Jewish people) the rule of kim lei be-derabah minei will be invoked, and karet will be seen as the more severe punishment, even though karet is a punishment that is in the realm of the heavenly court. According to Rabbi Nehunya ben HaKana, whenever there is a punishment of death for a given act, the Torah does not impose any other punishments on that person for having performed that act. Since karet includes mittah bi-yedei shamayim – a heavenly capital punishment – the same rule of kim lei be-derabah minei should apply. The Sages who disagree with Rabbi Nehunya ben HaKana argue that a court can only deal with issues that are within its purview, and it cannot take into account heavenly punishments. Moreover, as the Meiri points out, a sinner who is liable for karet has the opportunity to engage in a process of teshuva – repentance – and will be forgiven. Transgressions for which the penalty is capital punishment, the court will carry out the sentence, even as it hopes that the sinner will choose to do teshuva.
Ketubot 30a-b: Heat and Cold
05/08/2022 - 8th of Av, 5782
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When a calamity takes place, should it always be seen as "an act of God"? When Ya'akov is encouraged by his children to send his son, Binyamin, with them to Egypt to face the viceroy and free Shimon from prison (unbeknownst to him, the viceroy was his own son, Yosef), he refuses to allow Binyamin to travel with them, fearing pen yikra'enu ason – lest a calamity befall him (see Bereshit 42:4). Abaye presents this passage as Ya'akov's fear that a calamity from God would befall him, but Rav Ada bar Ahavah argues that it is not clear that Ya'akov is warning them about tzinim u'pahim (heat and cold), he may have been warning them of aryeh ve-ganaveh (wild animals and bandits) – or, for that matter, he may have been warning them about both! In a counter-intuitive fashion the Gemara concludes that tzinim u'pahim are, in fact, dangers that are controlled by our activities, while aryeh ve-ganaveh are considered calamities brought down by heaven. That tzinim u'pahim are in human hands is decided based on a passage in Mishlei (22:5) that teaches that tzinim u'pahim are stumbling blocks that an intelligent person knows to avoid. Based on this the baraita states: "Ha-kol b'yedei shamayim hutz mi-tzinim u'pahim – everything is in God's hands except for tzinim u'pahim." Aryeh ve-ganaveh, on the other hand, are seen as heavenly messengers, based on a teaching of Rabbi Hiyya that from the time of the destruction of the Temple, even though the Sanhedrin no longer operated, still criminals received capital punishments that they deserved. Someone who deserved to be burned would be killed in a fire, someone who deserved to be killed by the sword would be set upon and killed by bandits, etc. As far as the passage in Mishlei is concerned, most of the commentaries there agree that the words tzinim u'pahim mean thorns and obstacles. Nevertheless, in the context of our Gemara the term is interpreted in a number of different ways. Rashi and most of the commentaries on the Talmud understand it to mean "cold and heat." The intention, however, is one. Most calamities that befall a person appear suddenly, and a person cannot possibly prepare himself for them. There are, however, calamities that a person brings upon himself because he is not careful and does not plan in advance.
Ketubot 29a-b: The Penalty for Rape
04/08/2022 - 7th of Av, 5782
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According to the Torah, in the event that a na'ara betula – a young woman who was a virgin – was seduced (mefuta) or raped (ones), if the father agrees, the perpetrator will be obligated to marry the girl. There also is a monetary payment that is made to the father (in the case of seduction it is only if the father chooses to refuse the possibility of marriage; in the case of rape it is in addition to the marriage, which the rapist will not be allowed to end by means of divorce). These rules, which appear in Sefer Shemot 22:15-16 and Sefer Devarim 22:28-29, are written in a succinct fashion, and many of the details and specifics are left for the Talmud to clarify. The third perek of Massekhet Ketubot, which begins on our daf, focuses on these issues, and deals with such questions as:
  • Will these rules apply only to a na'ara betula, or should they be applied to a minor (ketana) and an adult (bogeret), as well?
  • Should the rules only apply when the girl has a father? What happens if she is an orphan?
  • Is the "right of refusal" only applicable in the case of seduction? Is that right only the father's or does the girl also have the right to refuse?
The first Mishna in the perek lists women who will receive kenas (the penalty mentioned in the Torah) if she is raped or seduced, which includes even women who the perpetrator cannot marry, like a mamzeret or an immediate relative. The Shiṭṭa Meḳubbeẓet points out that aside from the kenas discussed in the Mishna, a woman who was attacked will also receive other damages, like boshet (payment for embarrassment). These additional payments are not mentioned in the Mishna, whose author is basing his teaching on the passages in the Torah, which only specify kenas for the young woman who was raped. Nevertheless, like anyone who suffered personal harm at the hands of another, the rules of nezek (damages) will be applied to the rape victim, as well.
Ketubot 28a-b: Identifying a Kohen
03/08/2022 - 6th of Av, 5782
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The Mishna presents a list of statements about which an adult can testify based on what he witnessed as a child. For example, a person can say that he recognizes the signature of his father, his teacher or his brother. He is also believed to attest to the fact that someone would leave school to immerse in the mikveh so that he could eat teruma that is permitted only to a kohen, or that he received teruma that was distributed at the granary. Our Gemara questions whether receiving teruma is a reliable statement that someone is a kohen. Perhaps that person was a slave whose master was a kohen, and he received the teruma on behalf of his master? In clarifying the rules of a kohen and his servants, the Gemara relates a disagreement between Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Yosei. Rabbi Yehuda insists that such a person can only receive teruma in the granary if he is accompanying his master, the kohen. Rabbi Yosei allows the servant to receive teruma on his own, with the argument that he is deserving of the teruma, either on his own merit as a kohen, or else because he is owned by a kohen. The Gemara explains that this disagreement is based on different practices that existed in each of their communities. In Rabbi Yehuda's community, receiving teruma was considered tantamount to proof that the recipient was a kohen; in Rabbi Yosei's community it was not considered proof. Rabbi Elazar son of Rabbi Yosei then relates that this difference almost led to a servant being accepted as a kohen. As explained by the Gemara, while in Rabbi Yosei's community he saw someone receiving teruma. Upon testifying to this fact in Rabbi Yehuda's community, the man was almost accepted as a kohen. The Gemara is certain that ultimately no mistake had been made, arguing that "if no error can ensue from the activities of the animal of a tzaddik, certainly the actions of an actual cannot lead to error." The source for this concept is a story that appears in Hullin (7a) where Pinhas ben Yair's donkey refuses to eat food that had not been properly tithed. Although Rabbeinu Tam extends this idea to other areas of halakha, as well, Tosafot on our page erase the discussion of this idea, arguing that it only applies to eating forbidden food, and not to other possible errors.
Ketubot 27a-b: Available to All
02/08/2022 - 5th of Av, 5782
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According to the Mishna (26b) a woman who was held captive by non-Jews and held for ransom is permitted to return to her husband after she is released. In such a case, the assumption is that the captors want to be sure that she will be redeemed (al yedei mamon), and will therefore not abuse her. If they had planned to kill her (al yedei nefashot), however, she is forbidden to her husband, since we fear that she was raped, and may even have submitted willingly to the people who were holding her. In our Gemara, Levi ben Sisi suggests that an example of al yedei nefashot is ben Donai's wife. Ben Donai was a well-known bandit and murderer. According to the Gemara in Massekhet Sotah his name was Elazar ben Dinai, and he was also known as Tehina ben Perisha. Ben Dinai is also mentioned in Josephus, who was his contemporary, who writes that for more than 20 years Ben Dinai was head of a band of robbers and murderers in the Galilee, until he was finally tricked into surrendering to the Roman governor and was taken to Rome for trial. Although there is no clear evidence, from the context it appears that Ben Dinai was not a simple professional criminal, but there was a political angle to his activities. It is likely that his criminal band were partisans who fought against Roman rule in Israel (we find that Josephus refers to a number of the leaders of Bar Kokhba's great rebellion as "bandits"). This would explain why he was taken to Rome to be tried, rather than being dealt with by the local authorities. According to Roman law at that time, political criminals who were involved in rebellion would lose all of their property, and all of their possessions would be declared ownerless. Thus we can well understand Levi ben Sisi's ruling that in such a case such a man's wife would be perceived as being permitted to all.
Ketubot 26a-b: Further Evidence of a Kohen
01/08/2022 - 4th of Av, 5782
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Still in the midst of discussing how we can establish the lineage of different families, our Gemara quotes a baraita where R' Shimon ben Elazar teaches that receiving either teruma gedola or ma'aser rishon can be considered a reliable indicator that the recipient is a kohen. In response to the objection that ma'aser rishon is the levi's portion, the Gemara responds that R' Shimon ben Elazar is following the opinion of Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya. As we have learned, a portion of the annual produce is set aside for the kohanim and is called teruma. Aside from the teruma, ten percent of the harvest is set aside for the levi'im, as ma'aser. Our Gemara quotes a baraita in which we learn that this is only the opinion of Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya rules that ma'aser need not only be given to a levi, as it can also be given to a kohen, since the priestly families are all from the tribe of Levi (as we learned in Massekhet Yevamotdaf 86). Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya was a kohen who had a personal interest in this ruling. As our Gemara explains, following the penalty imposed on the levi'im by Ezra HaSofer, the rights of levi'im to ma'aser were severely curtailed, and it was ordinarily given only to kohanim and not to levi'im. Tosafot on our daf search for a textual source for this penalty of Ezra. Although it is clear that Ezra was very disturbed by the fact that the levi'im did not choose to join him on his return to the Land of Israel (see Ezra 8:15-17), there is nevertheless no clear indication that he made a formal decision to penalize them by depriving them of ma'aser. One passage that they bring (Nehemiah 10:38) at best seems to indicate that the kohanim were given equal rights in the ma'aser, but not that it was taken from the levi'im. Still, the Meiri interprets that pasuk to mean that the kohanim were encouraged to receive the ma'aser directly from the farmer, although they were generous in sharing it with the levi'im. The Beit Yosef interprets the Rambam (see Mishneh Torah, Hilkhot Ma'aser 1:4) as limiting Ezra’s ruling to his own time only – after all, there is little reason to punish the levi'im who did choose to move to Israel – but that after the second Temple the rules of teruma and ma'aser reverted back to their original state.
Ketubot 25a-b: Evidence of a Kohen
31/07/2022 - 3rd of Av, 5782
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Our Gemara continues with the discussion of what evidence is needed in order to establish that someone is a kohen. The Gemara tells of someone who approached Reish Lakish, telling him that he was certain that a specific person was a kohen. He knew this because he saw that he had been called up first to the Torah reading. Resh Lakish responded by asking him whether he had also seen this man receiving teruma when it was being divided up at the granary. Rabbi Elazar overheard this and responded, "and if there is no granary in the town, can we not establish who is a kohen?" That is to say, the testimony based on the Torah reading should be sufficient. On another occasion, Reish Lakish was sitting with Rabbi Yohanan and a similar conversation ensued. When Rabbi Yohanan said "and if there is no granary in the town, can we not establish who is a kohen?" it became clear to Reish Lakish that Rabbi Elazar had learned this from Rabbi Yohanan. The next time he saw Rabbi Elazar he said to him "you learned that from bar Nappaha (Rabbi Yohanan)! Why didn't you quote it is his name!?" Most of the commentaries accept Rashi's approach to Reish Lakish's complaint – had he known that the argument Rabbi Elazar had raised was the opinion of Rabbi Yohanan, he would have accepted it the first time he heard it. Rabbeinu Hananel suggests that even if he would not have accepted it, in Rabbi Yohanan's presence he would not have stated a position to which he knew Rabbi Yohanan objected. The Ritva explains that the reason Rabbi Elazar did not quote Rabbi Yonanan is because the relationship between the two was so close that he believed that it should have been clear to everyone that the statements he made were those he learned from his teacher, Rabbi Yohanan. On several occasions in the Talmud – most often in the Talmud Yerushalmi – Rabbi Yohanan is referred to as bar Nappaha – "son of a blacksmith." Some suggest that this is simply because that was his father's occupation. Others suggest that it was an ironic nickname given to Rabbi Yohanan specifically because of his good looks, while another approach suggests that it refers to his strength and proficiency in Torah.
Ketubot 24a-b: Accepting Written Testimony
30/07/2022 - 2nd of Av, 5782
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One of the subjects our Gemara addresses is how we can establish a person's lineage. How can we be certain that someone is a kohen, for example? If he regularly eats teruma, does that prove that he is a kohen? If he does nesi'ut kapayim – blesses the people with birkat kohanim – will that prove that he is a kohen? And what if we have a shtar – a document signed by witnesses – in which an individual is referred to as a kohen? Will that document be accepted as proof that he is a kohen? According to the Gemara, if we have a document, signed by witnesses, which says "So-and-so the kohen borrowed a sum of money from a certain person" we find a disagreement between Rav Huna and Rav Hisda on the question of whether witnesses focus on the main point of the shtar – i.e. the sum of the loan – or they are attesting to the veracity of the entire document, which includes the statement that the borrower is a kohen. At least part of the question here is dependent on a more basic issue. Does a Jewish court accept written testimony? In general, the Gemara follows a rule which states, "Mi-pihem ve-lo mi-pi ketavam – the halakha accepts verbal testimony, but not written testimony." On the other hand, the Gemara has a principle that, with regard to documentation of loans, purchases, and the like, we say, "Eidim ha-hatumim al ha-shtar na'aseh ke-mi she-nehkerah eidutam be-beit din – witnesses who have signed a legal document are considered to have had their testimony authenticated in the courtroom." Nevertheless, there is room to distinguish between the central issue for which the shtar was written, where we would say eidim ha-hatumim al ha-shtar na'aseh ke-mi she-nehkerah eidutam be-beit din, and incidental points mentioned in the shtar, where we would apply the rule mi-pihem ve-lo mi-pi ketavam and would rule that they cannot be viewed as reliable testimony. In the end, the Gemara distinguishes between such priestly benefits as eating teruma in modern times on a Rabbinic level, where such testimony would be sufficient, and establishing him as a member of the family of kohanim on a Torah level where it would not be (see the Rambam's Mishneh Torah, Hilkhot Issurei Bi'ah 20:9).
Ketubot 23a-b: But I Am Pure
29/07/2022 - 1st of Av, 5782
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Following the principle of ha-peh she-asar hu ha-peh she-hitir that we learned about on yesterday's daf, the Mishna (22a) teaches that a Jewish woman who was held captive is believed when she says, "Nishbeti u'tehorah ani – I was held as a prisoner, but I am pure [I was never sexually molested]." If she had been, it would have made her forbidden from marrying a kohen. However, if we know from another source that she was held captive, we can no longer believe her. The Mishna further teaches that had she gotten married already, even if witnesses come who say that they knew she was a prisoner, we allow her to remain married. Our Gemara quotes Shmuel's father as ruling that this is true not only in a case where she had already married, but even if the beit din ruled that she was permitted, they would not rescind their ruling and would allow her to marry a kohen – even if witnesses who knew that she had been held prisoner arrived before the marriage took place. The Gemara relates that Shmuel's own daughters were taken as prisoners and that their captor took them to Israel, where they hoped to sell them or receive ransom from the community to have them freed. The girls turned to their captors and asked them for permission to enter the beit midrash of Rabbi Hanina, while the captors waited outside. Thus the girls were able to walk into the court, state nishbeti u'tehorah ani and receive permission to marry whomever they wanted based on ha-peh she-asar hu ha-peh she-hitir, and only afterwards did the captors enter to begin negotiations on their sale. Rabbi Hanina realized that these girls must have grown up in a home of scholars and ascertained that they were, in fact, Shmuel's daughter's, at which point he encouraged Rav Shemen bar Abba – who was a kohen, and was related to Abba Arika's family – to marry one of them. Neharde'a, the city where Shmuel lived, was near the border between the Persian and Roman empires. This made it a clear target, and it was attacked and sacked many times. Some say that this story with Shmuel's daughters took place during the attack by Septimus Odaenathus in the year 259 CE. From a compilation of the stories that appear in the Talmud Bavli and the Talmud Yerushalmi, it appears that Shmuel had at least three daughters, two of whom married Rav Shemen bar Abba (after the first one died, he married her sister). The third married Issur Giyura.
Ketubot 22a-b: A Convincing Rationale
28/07/2022 - 29th of Tamuz, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Mishna on our daf introduces us to the halakhic argument: "Ha-peh she-asar hu ha-peh she-hitir - the voice that forbade is the voice that permitted." In other words, when we are only aware of a potentially problematic situation because of someone's admission, we trust that person to explain why the situation is, in fact, not a problem at all. Thus, if a woman walks into court and says "I was married, but have received a divorce," we will accept her story and allow her to marry with no need for her to prove that she is now single. If, however, we knew that she was married based on other evidence, we cannot accept her word that she is divorced without some proof to that effect. The Gemara quotes a baraita that goes one step further. The baraita teaches that a woman who says "I am married" can come to court afterwards and say "I am single" and will be believed if she gives an amatla – a convincing rationale for why she originally said what she did. In response to a query from Shmuel, Rav ruled that a married woman will also be believed if she says that she is permitted to her husband, even though the previous night she said that she was forbidden (i.e. that she was a nidda), as long as she gives a convincing explanation of her statement the previous night. The Gemara records that Shmuel accepted the ruling, although he did not apply it when it came up in a personal case. Tosafot bring the Talmud Yerushalmi, which explains that Shmuel had turned to Rav with this question because one night his wife had told him that she was forbidden and the next night that she was permitted, explaining that she was simply too tired the night before to engage in relations and had excused herself by claiming that relations were forbidden. The She'iltot presents the story in a different way. According to that version, one of the hints that a wife would give to her husband to indicate that she was a nidda was that she would decline to drink from the cup of wine that her husband offered her. When this happened in Shmuel's home, his wife later explained that she had declined the wine for another reason – she did not want to embarrass Shmuel's sister, who was a guest at the table and had not received a cup of wine. It was in that case where Rav ruled that her explanation could be accepted.
Ketubot 21a-b: Authenticating Signatures
27/07/2022 - 28th of Tamuz, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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One of the central discussions in our perek is how the witnesses whose names are signed in a shtar – a contract or other legal document – can be authenticated. Our Gemara quotes Rav as distinguishing between different types of testimony, arguing that kiyyum shtarot – authenticating the signatures on a shtar – is rabbinic in nature, while Kiddush ha-hodesh – establishing the Jewish calendar based on testimony regarding the New Moon – is essential on a biblical level. With regard to the shtar, the approach of most commentaries is that on a biblical level the signatures that appear in the document are sufficient for us to accept it as legitimate testimony, and there is no need to confirm its authenticity. If at some point we discover a forgery or error, it will be presented to the court, which will then review the case and rule based on the new information. Based on this, Rav Hai Gaon and others rule that if one of the judges on the court that was convened to authenticate the signatures turns out to be disqualified, we do not need to begin the process anew, since on a biblical level the shtar did not really need to be examined in this way. Furthermore, the Rema in the Shulhan Arukh (Hoshen Mishpat 41:4) rules that since the need for authentication is only Rabbinic, we do not really need a beit din; even a yahid mumheh – a single expert – would suffice in such a case. The Rambam's approach is exactly the opposite. He believes that on a biblical level, the signatures in the shtar are worthless, since the only testimony that is really acceptable to prove the existence of the loan, sale, etc. would be a personal statement by reliable witnesses. Nevertheless, the Sages established a process whereby the court can rely on written testimony, i.e. the signatures of the witnesses on the shtar, on the condition that those signatures are properly examined and authenticated.
Ketubot 20a-b: His Condition at the Time of the Transaction
26/07/2022 - 27th of Tamuz, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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According to Jewish law, in order for business transactions to be valid, we must be certain that both parties understand the ramifications of their actions. Thus, someone who is in the halakhic category of a shoteh – a fool – cannot engage in buying and selling, and any transactions in which he participates will be nullified by the beit din. In our Gemara, Rav Nahman introduces us to the case of bar Shatya. Here, bar does not mean "the son of," but rather it is like bar mitzva, which means someone who is defined by a certain attribute – "a person obligated in mitzvot." Similarly, bar Shatya is a person who is known to be mad. This bar Shatya entered into a business agreement to sell his land. What happens in a case where two witnesses testify that he sold the land while he was in full control of his faculties, while two other witnesses say that at the time of the sale he was crazy? The conclusion is that when such a person has a long-standing claim on the land that was sold, we see the conflicting testimonies as canceling each other out, and we determine that the land must be left status quo – in the possession of bar Shatya. Various psychological maladies – particularly manic-depression – are oftentimes cyclical in nature, where the patient is fully rational for a length of time, yet at other times his ability to function in a cogent manner or make intelligent judgments and decisions is totally lacking. In such cases, the change from one state to another is sometimes gradual, which can lead to situations where it is difficult to determine whether he acted during one of his lucid moments or during his confused periods. The Ritva explains that this discussion works with the assumption that as far as the halakha is concerned, such a person is considered to be fully sane when he is healthy and totally incompetent when he is stricken. The obligation of the court is to determine – to the best of its ability – what the situation was at the time of the transaction.
Ketubot 19a-b: An Attribute of Piety
25/07/2022 - 26th of Tamuz, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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As we learned in the Mishna (18b), when a signed document needs to be authenticated, under certain circumstances the original witnesses who are brought in are believed if they say: “anusim hayinu - we were coerced,” “ketanim hayinu - at the time we were minors” or“pesulim hayinu - we were disqualified witnesses.” Our Gemara presents a baraita in which Rabbi Meir disagrees with this ruling, and argues that even with these explanations, we can never allow witnesses to deny their original testimony. Rav Hisda explains that Rabbi Meir disagrees about the pesulim hayinu argument because he holds that a person is not allowed to testify falsely, even if his life is being threatened. This explanation appears difficult to understand, since the general approach of all the Sages throughout the Talmud is that only three sins are so severe that they cannot be transgressed when someone's life is at stake - Avoda Zara (idol worship), Gilui Arayot (forbidden sexual relations) and Shefikhut Damim (murder) – see Massekhet Pesahim 25. The Ramban suggests that although a person is not obligated to risk his life for any mitzvah aside from these three, it would be considered a middat hasidut – an attribute of piety – to do so. Thus, a person who admits that he hadn't done this righteous act is, on some level, admitting that he did not do all that he could have. This question is the focus of a basic disagreement between the Rambam and Tosafot. According to the Rambam, it is forbidden for a person to give up their life for any mitzva aside from the three specific ones mentioned above. According to Tosafot, the Ramban and others, although no one is obligated to give up their lives rather than transgress other mitzvot, should they choose to do so it would be considered an attribute of piety.
Ketubot 18a-b: Disqualified Witness
24/07/2022 - 25th of Tamuz, 5782
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The Mishna on our daf teaches that when a signed document that needs to be authenticated, under certain circumstances the original witnesses who are brought in can say "yes, they are our signatures, but...
  • ...anusim hayinu - we were coerced" (and it was untrue)
  • ...ketanim hayinu - at the time we were minors" (who cannot testify) or
  • ...pesulim hayinu - we were disqualified witnesses."
In these cases, they are believed only if there is no other corroboration of their signatures. If, however, there are other witnesses who can attest to the veracity of their signatures, or if there are other documents that included their signatures to which this can be compared, then we do not believe them. The reason the witnesses can renounce their original testimony is explained by the Gemara to be based on the rule, "Ha-peh she-asar hu ha-peh she-hitir – the mouth that forbade is the mouth that permitted." This means that since we can only uphold the document based on their say-so, they are granted a higher level of believability with regard to their own statement. If the document can be authenticated in another way, then they do not gain that trust, and we accept the testimony as it appears in the document. It is clear that for us to believe them, the original witnesses' arguments explaining why their earlier testimony should not be accepted must be convincing. If they explained that they were underage at that time or that their lives were threatened, we can well understand why their original testimony should be voided. With regard to the claim pesulim hayinu we find a number of explanations. Rashi offers two approaches – either that they were close relatives who cannot testify or they were mesahek be-kubiya - they were dice players - and gamblers cannot testify. The Ri"d points to the rule that ein adam meisim atzmo rasha – a person cannot declare himself to be evil – and therefore concludes that only Rashi's first explanation can be accepted. The Ramban argues that Rashi was well aware of that limitation, which is why he chooses specifically the case of mesahek be-kubiya. Unlike real cases of evil-doing where the rule of ein adam meisim atzmo rasha applies, according to the Gemara in Massekhet Sanhedrin a mesahek be-kubiya cannot testify because he is eino osek be-yishuvo shel olam – he is not engaged in productive activities in the world, which is a severe criticism, but it is not an admission of evil-doing.
Ketubot 17a-b: Just As She Is
23/07/2022 - 24th of Tamuz, 5782
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One of the popular songs that is played at weddings is called "Keitzad merakdin lifnei ha-kalah? Kalah na'ah va-hasudah - How does one dance before the bride? A fair and attractive bride." This, in fact, is Beit Hillel's response to the question of what should be said (or sung) to a bride at her wedding. Beit Shammai disagrees, arguing that doing so would be lying – forbidden by the Torah (Shemot 23:7) with the statement, "Mi-devar sheker tirhak - stay far away from falsehood," for not every kallah is na'ah va-hasudah. What should be said is, "kallah kemot she-he­ – as she is." With regard to Beit Hillel's suggestion, Rashi and other commentaries explain that hasudah does not appear here to mean that she is being complimented for her spiritual qualities, rather that, "hut shel hessed masukh aleha - she finds favor in people's eyes," i.e. people find her attractive. Beit Shammai's suggestion is understood by most of the commentaries as a recommendation that the guests at a wedding choose their words carefully, emphasizing the positive qualities of the bride when singing before her. Tosafot point out that every person has their strengths that can be mentioned, like wealth, family background, etc. Some rishonim, however, interpret Beit Shammai as recommending that the very words kallah kemot she-he­ are what should be sung. That is to say, we are to compliment the bride on being who she is – as God created her. A statement like that rings true for every person. Beit Hillel's response to Beit Shammai is that there are times when sensitivity calls for a "white lie." The Ritva explains that our concern with falsehood is limited in situations where telling such a "white lie" will bring peace between people. He argues that even Beit Shammai agrees to this in most cases. To establish a false public statement as normative at weddings, however, goes beyond a "white lie" and cannot be permitted.
Ketubot 16a-b: Receipt for Payment
22/07/2022 - 23th of Tamuz, 5782
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A ketuba is effectively a contract – an agreement between husband and wife. What happens if this document is lost or misplaced? Our Gemara takes for granted that the obligation remains. In the event that death or divorce causes the ketuba to be enforced, then the only question is how much money was guaranteed at the time of the wedding. If the wife brings evidence that she was a betula – a virgin – she will receive the 200 dinar that is appropriate in such a case. Otherwise she will have to settle for 100 dinar, which a widow receives. Rabbi Abbahu concludes from this that a receipt is written when the ketuba is paid. Otherwise we need to be concerned lest the woman receive payment in one court based on the testimony of witnesses and in another beit din when she presents the ketuba and demands to be paid. The Sages disagree about whether a person who acknowledges a debt will have to pay it if the lender cannot return the promissory note to him. One approach is that he should pay and accept a receipt for the payment that was made. Others argue that it is unreasonable to force him to have to guard his receipt forever, lest the lender appear in court at a later date and demand payment based on the note. According to the first approach, this is not a great concern, because the passage in Mishlei (22:7) teaches: "Eved loveh le-ish malveh – a borrower becomes a servant to the lender," therefore we can make demands on the borrower in order to encourage lending. The rishonim point out that this disagreement about the appropriateness of writing a receipt applies not only in situations of loans, but in all similar documents where one party obligates itself to another, including a ketuba.
Ketubot 15a-b: To Sustain Him
21/07/2022 - 22th of Tamuz, 5782
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Our Gemara quotes a Mishna that teaches that if an abandoned child is found, the halakha treats him differently depending on the population of the city:
  • If the majority of the city's population is non-Jews, the child is considered a non-Jew.
  • If the majority is Jewish, the child is considered Jewish.
  • If there are an equal number of Jews and non-Jews, the child is considered Jewish.
What is unclear is what areas of halakha this applies to. Both Rav and Shmuel agree that these rules do not apply to the questions of yikhus – of family pedigree – but to other halakhot. Rav, for example, says that the rules apply to the question of le-hahayoto (to sustain him). Although this term could be understood to mean whether the community is obligated to save the child from a dangerous situation, the rishonim understand it to mean that the question is whether the Jewish community is obligated to raise and support this child. According to this approach, Rav is teaching that even situations that are not life-or-death must be taken seriously by the Jewish courts with regard to this child. One issue raised by the rishonim is why we do not simply convert the child, which would solve all of these problems; in any case he will be raised in the Jewish community and be supported by them? Several explanations are given in response. First of all, we have already learned (on daf 11) that according to most opinions, a Jewish court will only agree to convert a child if he is brought by his parents or requests the conversion on his own; the beit din will not take such an initiative on its own. Furthermore, we have learned that upon reaching maturity a child who converts is given the opportunity to reject the conversion that was done, which will effectively remove any advantage that the conversion would have given us.
Ketubot 14a-b: Identifying the Father, Part II
20/07/2022 - 21th of Tamuz, 5782
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Yesterday's daf discussed the case of an unmarried pregnant woman who claims that a specific man is the father of her unborn child. We saw that although Rabbi Yehoshua disagrees, Rabban Gamliel rules that we accept her testimony. Our Gemara discusses a case where a couple who had had kiddushin but not nissuin came before Rav Yosef. The woman - who was pregnant - stated that her betrothed was the father, a claim corroborated by the man. Rav Yosef ruled that they were to be believed – after all, the father admitted that he was the father, and in any case we accept the position of Rabban Gamliel that her testimony is accepted. This discussion in our Gemara is connected with a parallel discussion in a Gemara in Yevamot where we find the possibility raised that a betrothed, pregnant woman may be suspected of having committed adultery. Two possibilities are offered by the Gemara there. According to one, this suspicion is raised only if there were rumors that the woman had been sleeping with other men; according to the second, this is a matter of concern even if such rumors did not exist. The Ramban and the Rashba argue that our Gemara accepts the first suggestion of the Gemara in Massekhet Yevamot, and that as long as there were no rumors circulating about her behavior, it is not a matter of concern and we accept her claim – supported by her betrothed – with regard to the identity of the father. Tosafot suggest that in our case we are not dealing with a situation where the couple admits to having relations just once, rather they have been living together as husband and wife. In such a situation we can assume that the pregnancy was the product of their relationship, and do not need to be concerned with the possibility that she committed adultery. Other rishonim – the Ritva, for example – suggest that our case is when the husband can say with certainty that it is his child, e.g. where they never left each other's sight until she became pregnant.
Ketubot 13a-b: Identifying the Father, Part I
19/07/2022 - 20th of Tamuz, 5782
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How much credibility does a woman have to testify about the identity of her lover? The Mishna on our daf teaches that if an unmarried woman who is pregnant identifies the father as a specific person, who is a kohen, Rabban Gamliel and Rabbi Eliezer rule that we accept her word, while Rabbi Yehoshua says that we cannot trust her, and must assume that the father has a problematic family lineage, unless she brings proof of her claim. It is clear from the rishonim that even according to Rabban Gamiel, we do not fully accept her testimony, and we are not convinced that the specific person who she points to is the father. Thus, even though she claims that the father was a kohen, we will not allow her child to eat teruma (which is permitted only to kohanim), nor will we allow the child to perform the sacrificial service in the Temple. The point of her statement as described in the Mishna is that if we believe her, it is because she is able to point to a specific individual with whom she had sexual relations. If she merely said that she is certain that the person she slept with was "kosher" (i.e. he was Jewish and not a mamzer) we would not believe her, even according to Rabban Gamliel. The Talmud Yerushalmi explains that the argument between Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabban Gamliel is based on the particular concern that Rabbi Yehoshua has with people who engage in sexual relations outside the framework of marriage. It is specifically in such a case that Rabbi Yehoshua is concerned that the father might have a problematic family history, because such people are more likely to be engaging in zenut – sexual relationships outside of marriage. Rabban Gamliel's argument is that when dealing with issues of sexuality, we can never be sure what went on, and the suspicion is the same for everyone. Therefore, if we accept her word, it is good enough.
Ketubot 12a-b: A Close Relationship
18/07/2022 - 19th of Tamuz, 5782
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As we have learned, during Talmudic times it was common practice for the kiddushin to take place a full year before the nissu'in . Our Mishna teaches that in Yehuda – Judea, the southern part of Israel – it was not unusual to allow the bride and groom to become intimate prior to the nissu'in, and that in such cases the groom could not claim at the time of the nissu'in that his wife was not a virgin (as we have learned – see 2a – such a claim would need to be brought before the beit din to clarify whether adultery may have taken place). The Talmud Yerushalmi offers an explanation for the tradition of Yehuda that is quoted by many of the commentaries on our Gemara. As we learned earlier in Massekhet Ketubot (3a), during the times of the Mishna there was a governmental decree stating that, "Betula ha-niset be-yom ha-revi'i, tiba'el la-hegmon tehilah - any virgin marrying on Wednesdays will first be deflowered by the prefect." In order to ensure that the couple would develop a healthy marital relationship – and that the wife would not have her first sexual experience at the hands of a Roman prefect – the man and woman were encouraged to develop a close relationship even before the completion of the marriage ceremony. Rabbeinu Yehonatan adds that once the prefect realized that the Jewish women were no longer virgins at the time of their weddings, the edict was no longer kept and it fell into disuse. What is clear from all of the rishonim is that for all that the Mishna uses a term of modesty "when one eats at his father-in-law's home in Yehuda," the bride and groom actually engaged in a physical – and perhaps even sexual – relationship. The Meiri writes that this relationship, which was, in effect, consummation of their marriage, was often celebrated with a festive meal, which is the reference in the Mishna to a meal at the father-in-law's house. The Talmud Yerushalmi concludes by saying that this Judean tradition remained, even after the governmental edict ended.
Ketubot 11a-b: Converting a Minor
17/07/2022 - 18th of Tamuz, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Our Gemara focuses on the question of a convert, and specifically of a child who is brought before the beit din to convert. Rav Huna teaches that the Jewish courts will accept a child as a convert, although Rav Yosef adds that when such a convert reaches maturity, he or she will have the option of rejecting Judaism. Under what circumstances will the court actually convert a minor? The Gemara offers one straightforward case – when a father comes before the court to convert and brings his children to convert, as well. In such a case, we assume that children are inclined to accept their father's choices for them. In other cases, we work with the assumption that becoming Jewish is ultimately a benefit for the individual, and beit din will convert the child based on the rule that something which is beneficial can be done on another person's behalf, even without his/her knowledge. Rashi suggests that the case under discussion is one in which the family has no father and the child's mother is bringing him before the court for conversion. Other rishonim object to this reading of the Gemara, arguing that this is the same case as the one where a father brings his child to the beit din; there is really no reason to distinguish between a mother and a father in such cases. The Ritva suggests that the case is where the parents bring their child to convert even though they have no intention of converting themselves. Others understand the case to be where a child – one who has clearly reached the age of understanding even though he is still a minor – appears before the Jewish court on his own. According to all of these opinions, it appears that Jewish courts will consider converting a child who is brought before them or comes on his own. Under no circumstances, however, will beit din initiate such proceedings on their own. There is an opinion brought by the Ran, however, that if the court acted on its own initiative, the conversion will be acceptable bedi'avad (ex post facto).
Ketubot 10a-b: The Power of Dates
16/07/2022 - 17th of Tamuz, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Mishna teaches that the ketuba of an almana guarantees the sum of a maneh (100 dinars), while that of a betula (virgin) is 200 dinar. In searching for the etymology of the term almana, R Hana of Baghdad suggests that it stems from the maneh that a widow receives. In typical Gemara fashion, this statement segues into other statements made by this sage, R Hana of Baghdad. In one of them, he teaches of the virtues of eating dates: dates warm a person, satiate him, act as a laxative and strengthen, but they do not make him delicate. This discussion includes other opinions on this subject, as well. Rav teaches that if one has eaten dates, he should not give legal decisions. The Gemara explains that this is because dates are similar to wine, which can be intoxicating. Another position is presented by Abaye, who quotes his mother as teaching him that dates are problematic before a meal, but they are good to eat after a meal. Dates are very high in calories – about 270 calories per 100 grams of dried dates, most of which are sugars that are easily digested. This gives dates both the qualities of satiation and warming. The high fiber content of dates is what gives them the quality of a laxative. The advice to avoid eating dates before the meal stems from the fact that they give a sense of being full, thus limiting one's appetite. For the same reason they are ideal at the end of a meal. Eating a large amount of highly concentrated sugar-heavy foods raises the sugar level in the blood, which can lead to dizziness and drowsiness – similar to the effects of alcohol consumption. This is probably the source for the ruling that someone who eats dates should not offer legal decisions.
Ketubot 9a-b: A Conditional Retroactive Divorce
15/07/2022 - 16th of Tamuz, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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Our Gemara describes an adulterous relationship that would lead to a wife becoming forbidden to her husband as one that is similar to ma'aseh she-hayah – "the event that took place." Rabbeinu Hananel writes that there was a long-standing tradition to identify this ma'aseh she-hayah with the story of King David and Bat-Sheva (see II Shmuel, chapters 11-12), and this tradition is accepted by all of the commentaries on the Gemara. They explain that, out of respect for King David, the story is referred to obliquely rather than in a straightforward manner. The obvious question here, however, is that it appears from the story that Bat-Sheva becomes forbidden to neither her husband Uriah, nor to King David! By way of explanation, the Gemara brings a teaching of Rabbi Shmuel bar Nahmani in the name of Rabbi Yonatan, which says that every soldier who went off to battle in King David's army would first write a get keritut – a divorce document – to his wife. Rashi explains that these divorces were conditional; they were to take effect retroactively only if the soldier were to die in battle. The purpose of the divorce was to save the widow from the need to deal with issues of yibum or halitza. Although this appears to limit the effect of the divorce to a very narrow range of people, it is likely that we should understand Rashi as referring more broadly to any case where the soldier does not return at the end of the war, including situations where the soldier is captured or goes missing. This explanation, which is offered by the Ramban and Tosafot, would apply to any woman who would then be saved from being an aguna by means of this get.
Ketubot 8a-b: Seven Blessings
14/07/2022 - 15th of Tamuz, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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Our Gemara discusses the seven blessings that are made at a Jewish wedding, and also recited afterwards. For the entire week after the wedding, celebratory meals in honor of the bride and the groom are accompanied by sheva berakhot – a series of seven unique blessings that are added to birkat ha-mazon, the grace after meals. These blessings include statements that welcome the wedding guests, recall the creation of Adam and Chava, mention the consolation of Jerusalem (based on the passage in Tehillim 137:6), and finally wish the new couple well at their wedding and their future endeavors. It is interesting to note that the Gemara describes situations where six blessings were recited, even though the special blessings have been referred to in Rabbinic literature as sheva berakhot – seven blessings – since before the time of the rishonim. It is clear that, already in the time of the ge'onim, the blessing of borei peri ha-gafen on a cup of wine was added to the special wedding blessings, which would, indeed, create a set of seven berakhot. The Rokeah brings proofs from the Talmud Yerushalmi that seem to support the idea that the blessing over a cup of wine was part-and-parcel of the wedding ceremony. Other sources (Siddur Rav Amram Ga'on, for example) suggest that an additional blessing was made over a hadas as part of the ceremony. There are also opinions which seemingly indicate that it was common practice to recite both a borei peri ha-gafen on a cup of wine and a borei minei besamim on a hadas during the wedding ceremony. In his Sefer HaYashar, Rabbeinu Tam deals with this question differently. As we have learned, it is common practice today to combine the kiddushin and nissu'in in one ceremony under a huppa. Thus, the blessing that is made on the betrothal, along with the six marriage blessings, comprise the sheva berakhot.
Ketubot 7a-b: Necessary for Yom Tov
13/07/2022 - 14th of Tamuz, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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Today's daf continues the discussion of activities that are permitted or forbidden on Yamim Tovim. As we have learned, activities that are essential for food preparation (e.g. cooking and kneading) are permitted on Yom Tov, even though they are prohibited on Shabbat. This is based on a passage in Sefer Shemot (12:16), which clearly forbids work on the holiday, but permits those activities that are needed to prepare food. Our Gemara suggests that this rule can also be extended to other situations: "Mi-tokh she-hutrah letzorekh, hutrah nami she-lo le-tzorekh" - once a specific activity is permitted on Yom Tov for cooking, we may rule that it is permitted even in situations when the activity is done for reasons other than cooking. In general, the question of whether certain activities are permitted on Yom Tov – even if they are not directly connected with food preparation – is a disagreement between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel in Massekhet Beitza (daf 12). Both Tosafot and the Rashba point out, however, that even according to Beit Hillel, who permit food preparation activities in other settings, we do not have blanket permission to do those activities. Only if they are necessary for Yom Tov will they be permitted. Furthermore, the Gemara makes it clear that if the activity is not universally perceived as being necessary, it will remain forbidden. Rav Pappa gives an example of something that not everyone feels is essential for Yom Tov: mugmar. This burning incense was used to perfume clothing or a dwelling-place. A clay or metal vessel held the incense, whose vapor would rise up through holes in the cover, or, in some cases, once the incense was heated, the cover was removed to allow the smoke to rise. Mugmar was only used in wealthy homes, and even in such homes it was a matter of personal taste; this clearly explains Rav Pappa's presentation of it as a davar she'eino shaveh le-khol nefesh – something that is not universally desired or required.
Ketubot 6a-b: Stopping Up a Barrel
12/07/2022 - 13th of Tamuz, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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Today's daf discusses the classic case of a mesokhria d'nazyata – the cloth stopper of a barrel – that cannot be used to close a wine barrel on Yom Tov. The prohibition stems from the fact that when the stopper is tightened it will invariably squeeze out some of the liquid, and squeezing liquid out of cloth is forbidden on Shabbat and Yom Tov. Although it is taken for granted that squeezing liquid out of cloth is forbidden on Shabbat, the exact source of this prohibition is unclear. It appears that sohet (squeezing) is most likely a toladah – a derivative – of one of the 39 activities forbidden on Shabbat, specifically:
  • dash (threshing), or mefarek, which involves removing desirable contents from a peel or covering that is unnecessary or unwanted,
  • melaben (whitening), when squeezing out the liquid is part of a washing process, or
  • tzove'ah (coloring), when squeezing out the liquid leaves the cloth a different color.
The Sho'el U'meishiv suggests an interesting proof that the prohibition on squeezing is not derived from mefarek. The case presented in our Gemara refers specifically to the activity being performed on Yom Tov, when, unlike on Shabbat, activities done for the purpose of food preparation are permitted. Thus the prohibition must stem from either melaben or tzove'ah. The Arukh presents an entirely different approach to this Gemara, one that is apparently a tradition dating back to the time of the ge'onim. According to this approach, the mesokhria d'nazyata is not a cloth stopper, but a wooden piece that acts as a cover to an opening in the side of the wine barrel. Thus, the concern is not one of squeezing, but rather an issue of possible boneh – building. For all that the individual's intent is to keep the wine from leaking out of the barrel, nevertheless by securing the cover on the barrel, he is effectively completing the side of the barrel, which would be forbidden on Shabbat and Yom Tov.
Ketubot 5a-b: Mundane Activities and Shabbat
11/07/2022 - 12th of Tamuz, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The baraita teaches that a celebratory party for a wedding should not take place on Saturday night. This prohibition is at first explained by Rabbi Zeira as stemming from a concern that the groom will be involved in heshbonot on Shabbat – that he will be focused on mundane matters on Shabbat. In response to this suggestion, Abayye asks, "Ve-heshbonot shel mitzvah me asiri? – are heshbonot connected with a mitzva forbidden?" To support his contention, Abayye lists a number of Sages who permit a wide variety of "mundane" activities that are permitted on Shabbat because of the mitzva involved. These include:
  • assigning charity to the poor on Shabbat
  • discussions of public affairs that take place in synagogues and houses of study
  • saving lives
  • attending theatres and circuses to guard the public interest
  • arranging marriages
  • negotiating for tutors
Convinced by Abaye's argument, Rabbi Zeira explains instead that the concern in our case is that actual preparations for the celebration may begin on Shabbat. The prohibition to engage in discussions of mundane matters on Shabbat stems from the passage in Yeshayahu (58:13) that commands that Shabbat be honored, and that personal matters be avoided. The Gemara in Massekhet Shabbat (150b) clarifies that only personal matters are forbidden, but that "matters of heaven" – i.e. mitzvot – would be permitted. Of the list of activities permitted by Abaye, "attending theatres and circuses" stands out as an odd activity. Theatres and circuses were used not only for entertainment purposes, but also for other types of large gatherings. On occasion, the events that took place in these arenas – including anti-Jewish agitation – led to rioting that spilled into the streets. The presence of Jewish people in these theatres and circuses could be helpful, both to quiet these uprisings before they developed or minimally to warn others that they were about to take place. Occasionally, Jewish people were forced to participate in the matches in the arena, and with the support of Jews who were in the audience they might be saved.
Ketubot 4a-b: Death and Marriage
10/07/2022 - 11th of Tamuz, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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On today's daf we are presented with a difficult case. What if, just prior to the wedding, one of the parents of the bride or groom passes away? Can the wedding celebration take precedence over the mourning and the funeral, or must the wedding be postponed? The baraita teaches that we first perform the wedding (burying the parent afterwards) and the week of sheva berakhot. Only afterwards does the week of mourning begin. In order to understand this, we need to clarify the differences between an onen, one who has lost a relative and is preoccupied with the funeral, and an avel, who has already begun the mourning process. According to the Rambam, an onen is not obligated in any of the restrictions of an avel, and he is essentially permitted to bathe, to eat meat and drink wine and to engage in relations with his wife. According to this approach, the baraita's suggestion is easy to understand – as long as the late parent has not yet been buried there are no restrictions that would keep the couple from getting married. The Ramban, however, believes that under ordinary circumstances an onen would not be permitted to engage in sexual relations. Nevertheless, as a rabbinic ordinance, it is permitted in this unique case. The Rosh explains that postponing the wedding may cause financial hardship that may limit the celebration of the marriage; the Radbaz points out that we are not eliminating the mourning period, merely postponing it. When exactly the aninut ends and avelut begins is the subject of a dispute between Rabbi Eliezer, who rules that it is the moment that the mourner leaves his house for the burial, and Rabbi Yehoshua, according to whom it is the moment when the gollel is closed. di gollelThe commentaries disagree about how to define a gollel. Rashi explains that it is the cover to a casket. Tosafot suggest that it is a rounded stone that was used to close up a burial cave (several such stones have been found near ancient burial caves in Israel). During the times of the Mishna, common burial practice was to place the body in a temporary grave where it would decompose. At a later date, the bones would be removed and transferred to a family burial cave. The round shape of the gollel stone allowed it to be rolled, closing the cave, yet easily opening when necessary. The above image was taken from the Koren Talmud Bavli, English Edition.
Ketubot 3a-b: Cancelling a Wedding Due to Danger
09/07/2022 - 10th of Tamuz, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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We have learned that the Sages of the Mishna established Wednesday as the appropriate day of the week for the wedding of a virgin to take place. The Gemara on our daf brings a baraita that teaches that already in Mishnaic times, this practice ended. According to the baraita, from the time of sakana – danger – people began to make weddings on Tuesdays, with the tacit approval of the Sages. What danger existed that changed the traditional day of marriage? The Gemara rejects the possibility that there was a threat of death for those who married on Wednesdays, and explains that there was a governmental decree that stated: "Betula ha-niset be-yom ha-revi'i, tiba'el la-hegmon tehilah - any virgin marrying on Wednesdays will first be deflowered by the prefect." Edicts like this one, whose purpose is to emphasize the total control that the local ruler has over his subjects, were commonplace in the ancient world. Even during medieval times, among the rights that the feudal lord had over his serfs was jus primae noctis, "right of the first night." Several sources – whose reliability is subject to question – indicate that these types of edicts existed in the period prior to the Hasmonean revolution. In answer to the Gemara's question that such a situation should have brought the Sages to rescind the original rule of Wednesday weddings, the Gemara retorts, "Gezeira avidah de-batlah, ve-takanta de-rabbanan mi-kamei gezeira lo akrinan – the edict will likely be rescinded, and we do not want to abolish a Rabbinic ordinance because of such an edict." Interestingly, the word gezeira – an edict – was inserted by the censor, replacing the term shemada. In Rabbinic sources, the word shemad refers generally to edicts or punishments whose purpose is to force Jews to renounce their religion. The ge'onim explain its etymology as stemming from the Aramaic "to wash" or "to immerse" and a meshumad – an apostate – is a Jew who was baptized. This term was viewed as being derogatory (the term also refers to a chamber pot), and was therefore replaced by the censors.
Ketubot 2a-b: A Wednesday Wedding
08/07/2022 - 9th of Tamuz, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The first Mishna in Massekhet Ketubot teaches that there were specific days for marriages during that period in history. Women who were virgins getting married for the first time would get married on Wednesdays, while widows would get married on Thursdays. The Mishna does not offer any reason for establishing wedding dates on Thursdays for widows, but explains that the establishment of Wednesday for first-time weddings stems from the desire of the Sages to encourage the husband to come to beit din on Thursday morning should he find that his wife was not, in fact, a virgin. Since Jewish courts ordinarily sat on Mondays and Thursdays, it made sense for weddings to take place on Wednesdays. The Gemara goes on to explain that the establishment of Thursdays for widows – and, for that matter, the reason that first-time weddings did not take place on Sundays – was because of shakdu: that the Sages wanted to ensure at least three days of preparations for the wedding. In effect this meant that weddings could take place only at the end of the week. It should be noted that the Mishna's concern with the possibility that the woman was not a virgin was only a problem in Talmudic times when there was a significant amount of time between the betrothal (kiddushin) and completion of the marriage (nissu'in). In such a situation, if the woman had committed adultery during that period, she would be forbidden to her husband, and it would be essential for him to present the facts to the courts to rule on what happened. Today, when the kiddushin and nissu'in take place one after another under the huppah, this concern no longer exists. In any case, the basic halakha of the Mishna was one that raised a series of questions among the rishonim. Do we truly need to be suspicious of an adulterous act? And even if we do suspect that the woman had a sexual relationship with someone other than her husband, perhaps it took place before the kiddushin, and she will be permitted to her husband in any case. In short, why is there a need to establish such a rule for a most unlikely case? Many explanations are given in answer to these questions. Rashi suggests that we are simply trying to bring a suspicious case to beit din in the hope that witnesses will step forward to help us clarify the matter. The Shiṭṭa Meḳubbeẓet suggests that the Mishna offers only one reason for the rule. The main reasons are those mentioned in the Gemara – shakdu, as well as the idea that there is a special blessing for marriage on Thursday (i.e. Wednesday night, after the wedding) and Friday, paralleling the blessings given on the fifth and sixth days of creation (see Bereshit 1:22, 28).
Yevamot 122a-b: The Testimony Of A Single Witness
07/07/2022 - 8th of Tamuz, 5782
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We have already learned that the Sages found leniencies in situations where a woman whose husband disappeared would remain an aguna (literally "anchored" to her dead husband), and accepted the testimony of a single witness to allow her to remarry. The Mishna on our daf reports that this ruling was not always widely accepted. Rabbi Akiva relates that on his travels to Bavel he was in Neharde'a where he met a man named Nehemya ish Beit D'li who asked him to relay a tradition to Rabban Gamliel in Israel that his grandfather, Rabban Gamliel HaZaken had allowed such testimony to be accepted. Upon hearing this Rabban Gamliel rejoiced and put this ruling into practice. The Mishna relates a story where a group of people who were traveling left one of their party behind in a pundak – an inn – when he became ill. Upon their return they inquired as to their comrade's health, and the pundika'it – the woman who was in charge of the inn – responded that he had died and that she buried him. Based on her word, the Sages allowed his widow to remarry. The Gemara relates that in this last case, the pundika'it was a non-Jewish woman, who was believed based on the fact that she was mesiha lefi tuma – she was telling a story, and she did not realize that she was offering testimony. The believability of a mesi'a lefi tumo is accepted by the Sages because we assume that the person telling the story has no vested or personal interest, and no reason to lie. The power of this statement can be understood from the fact that aside from her being non-Jewish, the term pundika'it – a woman innkeeper – is often used in Aramaic to mean a prostitute, with the assumption that a woman servicing travelers often made herself available to them as well (see also the Radak's commentary to Sefer Yehoshua 2:1, where he explains that Rahav HaZona, with whom the Israelite spies found refuge, was an innkeeper). In our case Tosafot emphasize that the pundika'it was considered mesiha lefi tuma because, as explained by the Gemara, she burst into tears upon seeing the friends of the dead man, and only afterwards did she respond to their specific questions.
Yevamot 121a-b: Disappearing Into Water
06/07/2022 - 7th of Tamuz, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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When a person "disappears" into water, can we assume that he drowned, or must we consider the possibility that he survived and perhaps is alive, even though we cannot find him? The Mishna on our daf suggests that we need to distinguish between different types of bodies of water. When dealing with mayim she-ein lahem sof – literally "water with no end," i.e., a large body of water whose end cannot be seen – we must be concerned that he survived, while regarding mayim she-yesh lahem sof – when we can see the entire body of water – we can assume that he died. Rabbi Meir does not distinguish between the two, arguing that even in mayim she-yesh lahem sof we must operate with the assumption that the person could survive. To support his position, Rabbi Meir tells of a man who fell into ha-bor ha-gadol – the Great Cistern – and came out alive three days later. The baraita quotes the retort of the other Sages to Rabbi Meir – "we do not accept proofs from miraculous occurrences." It appears that "the Great Cistern" referred to was one with which the Sages were familiar. In the continuation of the Gemara a baraita is brought that tells the story of Nehunya Hofer Shihin's daughter who fell into "the Great Cistern." When the report reached Rabbi Hanina ben Dosa, he reported that all was well, and after a time that she had been saved. When questioned about it, Rabbi Hanina ben Dosa said that throughout the ordeal he was certain that Nehunya Hofer Shihin's daughter was safe because she would not be punished with the very object that her father devoted his life to. According to the Mishna in Shekalim (5:1) Nehunya Hofer Shihin – whose name literally means "Nehunya the well digger" was one of the appointed workers in the Temple, whose official position was to be responsible for water for Jerusalem generally, and specifically for the pilgrims coming to the Temple during the holidays. The Gemara tells that Nehunya was an expert in choosing the correct place to dig wells, thus he was able to fill cisterns not only from the collection of rainwater, but from underground reservoirs, as well.
Yevamot 120a-b: Only When They Are Truly Dead
05/07/2022 - 6th of Tamuz, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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When witnesses come to testify that a person has died, it is obvious that they must be certain that they saw that person dead. Thus, the Mishna on our daf rules that even if the witnesses saw someone being crucified or being mauled by a wild animal, they cannot testify unless they are sure that he was killed. Crucifixion was one of the methods of capital punishment used by the Romans during Mishnaic times. This cruel and unusual punishment was usually carried out on slaves and individuals captured during times of rebellion. The crucifixion itself did not kill the prisoner, as what was done was simply nailing the person's hands and legs on a wooden cross. Death usually was the result of dehydration and loss of blood, which is why, on occasion, people who were nailed to a cross were taken down and survived. With reference to the ruling in our Mishna, the Talmud Yerushalmi comments that we can never be sure that someone who was known to have been crucified was dead. Given the length of time that a person could be on the cross before he died, during that time a Roman matron may come by and request that he be taken down, or else appeals could be made to the authorities for clemency. Josephus writes that on several occasions when he chanced across acquaintances who were being crucified he successfully arranged to have them taken down from the cross and they survived. With regard to the Mishna's ruling that even seeing a wild animal eating away at a person is not enough to testify to his death, the Talmud Yerushalmi suggests that we must assume that the Heavens showed mercy on him and that the animal abandoned him without killing him. Nevertheless, in our Gemara Rav Yehuda quotes Shmuel as ruling that this is only the case if the animal is not attacking one of his vital organs. If the animal is eating a part of the man's body that would kill him, then we can accept such testimony.
Yevamot 119a-b: When The Husband Is Traveling
04/07/2022 - 5th of Tamuz, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The sixteenth perek of Massekhet Yevamot begins on our daf. This chapter focuses on three topics: The case of a woman who testifies that her husband has died, when it is not clear whether she is obligated in yibum (levirate marriage) or is free to marry whoever she wants. What testimony is necessary in order for the court to accept that someone has died? What must the witnesses have seen in order for the court to rely on them? Might there be a situation in which we can rely on the fact that a person on his deathbed has died, even if no one witnessed his actual passing? The first Mishna teaches that if a woman's husband (who has no children) goes traveling with her tzara (rival wife) and word gets back to her that her husband has died, she can neither marry nor have yibum. She cannot marry because we must assume that she is obligated in the mitzva of yibum. She cannot have yibum because we fear that her tzara may have given birth and without the mitzva of yibum, she is forbidden to her brother-in-law. The Mishna further teaches that in a case where her husband had no brothers, if his mother (i.e. her mother-in-law) was traveling as well, the widow does not need to be concerned that her mother-in-law gave birth to a son, which would put her in a situation of yibum, unless she left melei'a – literally "full," i.e. while pregnant. In such a case, the widow would need to ascertain whether or not her mother-in-law bore a son (who would be her husband’s brother) before she can marry someone else. According to the Talmud Yerushalmi this is a real concern because we must assume that there is an equal chance that the mother-in-law will give birth to a boy or to a girl. The Nimukei Yosef explains that the possibility of a miscarriage does not come into play here (except according to Rabbi Yehoshua, who permits her to marry based on the likelihood that her mother-in-law either miscarried or gave birth to a girl) because once a woman is at the end of her pregnancy, the possibility of a miscarriage is considered to be very small. The Rashash points to the odd language of the Mishna – that the mother-in-law left when she was "full" – as an indication that she was not merely pregnant, but was, in fact, at the very end of her pregnancy. It is also possible that the language is based on the passage in Megillat Rut (1:21) – a book that deals with many issues connected with yibum – where Naomi describes herself as leaving melei'a and returning empty, bereft of her husband and sons.
Yevamot 118a-b: To Stay Married Or Not To Stay Married
03/07/2022 - 4th of Tamuz, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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If a man realizes that he is dying and desires to free his wife from the obligation of yibum (levirate marriage), can he appoint a third party to receive a get – divorce papers – on her behalf? From the perspective of Jewish law, is receiving a get in such a case considered a zekhut (advantageous to the wife), or is it a hova (detrimental)? The Gemara does not come to a clear conclusion about this question, but it segues to another question – can a husband appoint someone to accept a get on his wife's behalf if the couple is in a situation of constant argument (ketata)? In such a case, would the woman consider it advantageous to be removed from this contentious situation, or is even a difficult marriage better than a situation of divorce? On this question the Gemara is clear – a woman would prefer to be married than to be divorced. Four common idioms are brought to support this idea: Reish Lakish: Tav le-meitav tan du me-le-meitav armelu (“It is preferable to sit as two than to sit lonely as a widow.”) Abaye: D'shumshemana gavra, kursei bei harata remu la (“With a husband the size of an ant, her seat is placed among the noblewomen.”) Rav Pappa: D'naftza gavra, tikrei be-sefei bava ve-teitiv (“Though her husband be a wool comber, she calls him to the threshold and sits down at his side.”) Rav Ashi: D'kulsa gavra, lo ba'ei talfhei le-kidra (“One whose husband sells cabbage does not require lentils for her pot.”) All of these statements, which were common in the time of the Gemara, indicate that no matter how simple, lowly or – according to the interpretation of the Ge'onim – odd-looking her husband is, a married woman is proud of her status as a wife.
Yevamot 117a-b: The Word Of The Wife
02/07/2022 - 3rd of Tamuz, 5782
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We have learned that a woman whose husband has disappeared can be trusted to say that he has died, and the Sages will allow her to marry – both because of a desire to ease the suffering of the widow and because they rely on her to ascertain that her husband is truly dead before she marries again. This applies to issues of marriage. But does it also apply to monetary issues connected with the husband's death? Specifically, will she receive her ketuba, which guarantees her support in the event that her husband dies? The Mishna teaches that Beit Hillel believe that the wife's testimony is trustworthy only for issues of marriage, but not for monetary matters, while Beit Shammai accept her word for money matters, which they perceive as being less weighty than the possibility of adultery. In the ensuing give-and-take, the Mishna quotes Beit Shammai as arguing that their position can be deduced from a close reading of the ketuba – midrash ketuba – which says that in the event that she remarries, she will collect the ketuba. Convinced by this argument, Beit Hillel accepted Beit Shammai's position. The concept of midrash ketuba is not, by any means, a simple or obvious one. Can one really reach conclusions about issues of Jewish law from the language of a legal document? Tosafot grapple with the question of whether Beit Hillel truly accepts the idea of midrash ketuba. In Massekhet Ketubot (53a), Tosafot suggest that Beit Hillel may only accept midrash ketuba when it is in favor of the husband, which can be supported by the argument that, because the husband is the one obligated to write the document, we assume his intention is to minimize his potential financial liability. The Talmud Yerushalmi brings a lengthy list of Sages, all of whom accept the idea of midrash ketuba, because it appears that the conclusion of our Mishna is that midrash ketuba is accepted by all, likely because of the realization that the text of the ketuba is largely established by the Sages themselves. Therefore it is logical to say that the language of the ketuba can be treated as though it were the language of the Mishna itself.
Yevamot 116a-b: Divorce By Flying Camel
01/07/2022 - 2nd of Tamuz, 5782
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We learned on yesterday's daf that, in a situation where testimony is given about the marital status of a particular person, Abaye expressed concern that someone else may have the same name as the subject of the testimony, while Rava is not concerned about this. Our Gemara tells the story of a divorce document found in the city of Sura, which read: "Here in the city of Sura, I, Anan bar Hiyya of Neharde’a, have divorced my wife." After checking throughout Babylonia, only one other person with the name Anan bar Hiyya was found. He was a resident of the city of Hagra, and there were witnesses who testified that on the day that the document in question was written, he was with them in Neharde'a – not Sura. Surprisingly, Abaye says that in this case he is not concerned that there might be a mistake, since the witnesses say clearly that the other possible Anan bar Hiyya was with them in another city. Rava, on the other hand, is specifically concerned in this case; due to the proximity of Neharde'a and Sura, if the man had gamla parha – a "flying camel" – or could travel be-kefitza – by "jumping" from one to the other (a miraculous shortcut) – he may have gotten to the other city the same day. Additionally, he could have sent a messenger to have the document written, so he did not need to be present at the time. The rishonim argue that Rava invoking flying camels and jumping from one city to another is not the heart of the matter. The real concern is that the man divorcing his wife may have sent a messenger to have the document written on his behalf. Nevertheless, the cases mentioned by Rava do have reasonable explanations. Different types of camels have specific characteristics and are used for different types of work. Most camels are used as beasts of burden and are rather slow. There are, however, also racing camels that can gallop like horses for long distances, and they are known as "flying camels." Although most of the commentaries explain that kefitza is done by use of some magical device, the Meiri suggests that it may simply refer to a fast runner and explains that Rava is saying that the man in question was swift afoot and thus able to travel from one city to the other in less time than we would imagine.
Yevamot 115a-b: Two Dead Men With One Name
30/06/2022 - 1st of Tamuz, 5782
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The fifteenth perek returns us to the discussion of the tenth perek and the question of what level of testimony is necessary to allow us to permit a woman to marry when her husband has disappeared. As we have seen, the Sages found a number of ways to be lenient in such cases, both because of their desire to ease the suffering of the widow and because they rely on her to ascertain that her husband is truly dead before she marries another man. One question that is raised on our daf is whether we need to concern ourselves with the fear that the witness who testifies that a person died may mistake one person for another if they both had the same name. The Gemara relates that Rav Beivai's nephew, who was called Yitzhak Reish Galuta (Isaac, the Exilarch), was traveling from Cordoba to Aspamya and died. (It appears that Cordoba is the place known by that same name in modern-day Spain. This ancient city, which was originally settled by the Phoenicians, was important in the days of the Talmud, as it was the capital of the Roman province H. Baetica. Aspamya may refer to the area of Spain whose name in Latin and Greek was Hispania.) When word got back of Yitzhak Reish Galuta’s death, Abaye and Rava disagreed about whether they could be certain that they knew who had died, or if they had to be concerned that there was more than one person known by that name. Abaye felt that such a concern had to be taken into account, while Rava was not concerned. The rishonim ask how this particular case came to be the point of discussion; after all, how many "Yitzhak Reish Galuta"s could there be?! The Ri"d and others argue that he could not have been the Exilarch; that was merely his nickname. According to the Rashba, Yitzhak was not the head of the entire Jewish community in exile, but rather only the head of the community of Cordoba. Other leaders of the Diaspora, says the Rashba, were also known by similar titles. The Alsheikh takes a different approach entirely. He suggests that the discussion did not revolve around this specific case, but when Yitzhak Reish Galuta passed away, it led to this situation being discussed.
Yevamot 114a-b: The Sins Of The Child
29/06/2022 - 30th of Sivan, 5782
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What level of responsibility do adults have to keep children from transgressing halakhic prohibitions? This question of whether katan okhel nevelot ein beit din metzuvin lehafrisho – "if a minor is eating non-kosher food the Jewish court would not need to stop him from doing so" – is dealt with in our Gemara, where a number of cases are brought that seem to offer different perspectives on this matter. For example, one baraita quoted by the Gemara teaches that an adult cannot tell a child to bring him keys on Shabbat (where the child will have to carry them in a public domain), but if he sees the child throwing something there, he is not obligated to stop him. Abaye explains that this case may be specifically in a karmelit – a place where the prohibition is only Rabbinic. Another baraita teaches that a non-Jew who comes to put out a fire on Shabbat should not be stopped, but a Jewish child must be told that he cannot extinguish the flames. Rabbi Yohanan limits this case to a situation where the child is doing so under the direction of his parent. There is no clear conclusion in the Gemara, which leaves the question open for the rishonim and aharonim to discuss. While it is clear that an adult cannot feed a minor with food forbidden by the Torah, what is the ruling if the food is only forbidden on a Rabbinic level? The Rashba, for example, believes that, according to the letter of the law, the latter case would be permissible. Another question discussed by the rishonim is whether the rules of the Jewish court also apply to the father. According to the Ri"d and others, if the beit din is not obligated to intercede when they see a child transgressing, neither is the father. The Rambam, however, is of the opinion that a father, who is specifically commanded to educate his child and is obligated to teach him to perform positive mitzvot like tzitzit and prayer, must be concerned with negative commandments as well, even if the beit din is not.
Yevamot 113a-b: One Piece From Two
28/06/2022 - 29th of Sivan, 5782
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Our Gemara refers to a korban asham taluy – a sacrifice brought for doing a questionable action – in the context of discussing the halakhic status of a heresh and hareshet – a deaf mute. The rule of asham taluy appears in the Torah (Vayikra 5:17-19), and its rules are discussed in detail mainly in Massekhet Keritot. The Torah does not specify what transgression would obligate this sacrifice to be brought; nevertheless, there is a long-standing Rabbinic tradition which teaches that an asham taluy was brought when a person accidentally performed an act that may have been forbidden by the Torah – one for which he would have been obligated to bring a korban hatat (a sin offering) had we known for sure that the act was prohibited. In such a case, the person would bring the asham taluy, and if it later became clear that he had, in fact, transgressed, the sinner would bring an additional korban hatat at that time. The tanna'im differ as to the level of uncertainty that obligates a person in an asham taluy, but the conclusion is that the sacrifice is brought only in the case of hatikha ahat mi-shtei hatikhot – "one piece out of two." This means that an asham taluy is only brought when the question is whether an act which is forbidden was done. If, however, there is a question with regard to the act itself, i.e. we are not certain whether the act was forbidden at all, then an asham taluy would not be brought. The specific example given is a case where a person had two pieces of meat in front of him: one was permitted and one was forbidden; we are certain that he ate one piece, but we are unsure which piece it was. Another such case would be if we knew for certain that the piece was forbidden, but we are uncertain as to whether the person ate the minimum amount necessary to be obligated in a sin-offering. In these two cases, an asham taluy would be required. If, however, we are not sure whether the piece that was eaten was truly forbidden – it was a case of hatikha ahat, "a single piece" – then an asham taluy would not be brought.
Yevamot 112a-b: Leaving, On Her Terms
27/06/2022 - 28th of Sivan, 5782
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Our Gemara quotes a Mishna in Nedarim (90b) which teaches that originally if a woman made a statement that indicated that she could no longer live with her husband, the beit din would obligate him to divorce her and pay her ketuba. Later on, the Sages became concerned that a woman who no longer desired to be married to her husband would make one of these claims, so the ruling was changed. The following statements are those that were deemed sufficient to end a marriage: teme'a ani lekha – the wife of a kohen tells him that she had relations with another man, where even if it was a case of rape, he will have to divorce her ha-shamayim beini le-veinkha – literally "the heavens separate us" netula ani min ha-yehudim – the woman takes a vow never to engage in relations with any Jewish man. The suggestions made by the Sages when they rescinded their original ruling were: The woman will have to bring proof that she was raped ya'asu derekh bakasha – literally "they should make entreaties" The husband should use his powers to annul the vow, at least as it pertains to him (see Bamidbar ch. 30). The second claim mentioned in the Gemara - ha-shamayim beini le-veinkha – as well as the response to it - ya'asu derekh bakasha – are left unclear in the Gemara, and are subject to different interpretations by the rishonim. Rashi appears to follow the Talmud Yerushalmi, and explains that she is claiming that her husband chooses not to engage in sexual relations with her. In the words of the Yerushalmi, her argument is "just as the heavens are far from the earth, so my husband is far away from me." According to the Babylonian Talmud (Nedarim 91a) her claim is that he is incapable of engaging in relations. The suggestion that in order to resolve this claim ya'asu derekh bakasha is understood by Rabbeinu Tam to mean that they should engage in prayer (apparently he is working with the explanation that the husband is suffering from a disability that does not allow him to engage in relations). Rashi follows the explanation of the Yerushalmi and Rabbeinu Hananel who explain that a meal should be arranged where the couple will be encouraged to work out their issues. The rishonim point out that the intention is that neither should be forced into any action, rather the couple should be counseled to work out the differences that exist between them.
Yevamot 111a-b: But A Month Later...
26/06/2022 - 27th of Sivan, 5782
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According to the Mishna on our daf, if a yevama comes to court within 30 days after the yibum (levirate marriage) is to have taken place, claiming that the yavam never consummated the yibum, the beit din will obligate him to perform halitza (ceremony releasing one from the obligation of yibum) with her. If the claim is made after 30 days then we request of him that he perform halitza, but we do not obligate him to do so. The Gemara explains that the case of the Mishna is when he contradicts her claim, arguing that he had fulfilled the mitzva of yibum and has now divorced her, so there is no need for halitza. When such a claim is made within 30 days we accept her version, but if they had been living together for more than 30 days we assume that they had certainly engaged in relations, and we accept his version. One question raised by the rishonim is why we do not force him to participate in the halitza ceremony even in the case where her claim was made after 30 days? Since he has chosen to divorce her, he does not lose anything by performing halitza – so why should he object? In such a case we would anticipate that the principle kofin al midat Sedom should be applied. (The rule kofin al midat Sedom teaches that in an interaction between two people where one person benefits and the other suffers no loss, we obligate the one who will not lose out to accommodate the needs of the person who stands to benefit.) Tosafot answer that that the yavam can claim that a court appearance is a burden for him, or even that the halitza ceremony is degrading towards him, so he is perceived as suffering a loss should he participate in it. According to the Nimukei Yosef he can also argue that if he simply divorces her, he reserves for himself the right to potentially remarry her at some point in the future. Performing halitza, on the other hand, would reinstate her status as his brother's wife and the option to remarry her in the future will be closed to him.
Yevamot 110a-b: A Binding Marriage
25/06/2022 - 26th of Sivan, 5782
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With regard to the marriage of a girl who is a minor, the Gemara presents Rav's opinion that even after she becomes an adult, the marriage will not be finalized until the couple engages in marital relations. This statement is challenged with the presentation of the following story. In the city of Neresh a man married a minor, and when she reached adulthood he arranged for the huppa to take place. Someone came and kidnapped her and although he married her, when she was finally returned to her original husband the Rabbinic authorities of the town – who were students of Rav – did not insist that the second man divorce her. Thus it appears that even though the first wedding was not consummated, they considered the first marriage to be binding and the second one to be meaningless. Rav Ashi explains that this is a rabbinic decree, and that the Sages have the power to undo the second marriage, given the inappropriate method used by the kidnapper in taking a wife. Rashi says that there is a Rabbinic ruling that such a wedding will not be recognized by the Sages. The Ramban and others argue, pointing out other cases in the Talmud where we do not find that such a rule applied. One of the explanations that he gives is that in this case, since there was an existing Rabbinic marriage, the Sages strengthened the status of that relationship, which did not allow for the possibility of a second marriage taking place. The city of Neresh stood on the banks of a river of the same name, to the south of Sura. The city was a major business and industrial center in Babylon, with a large agricultural base that included the farming of dates and production of alcoholic beverages. The community was built at the edge of the desert, and its people were considered to be uncultured, yet there was an ancient Jewish community there that included sages, like Rav Pappa, who made their homes there.
Yevamot 109a-b: To Refuse Or Not To Refuse
24/06/2022 - 25th of Sivan, 5782
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The Mishna on our daf presents a case where two brothers are married to two sisters, and one of the sisters is still a minor who is married only a Rabbinic level. Should the brother who is married to the adult sister pass away, we are faced with an awkward situation: the surviving brother is married to one sister on a Rabbinic level and has a relationship of yibum (levirate marriage) to the other sister on a Torah level. Three suggestions are raised in the Mishna: Rabbi Eliezer suggests that we teach the girl to do mi'un (refusal), dissolving the Rabbinic marriage, which will then allow for yibum to be performed. Rabban Gamliel rules that the girl can do mi'un if she wants. Otherwise we will wait until she matures, when her marriage will take on full significance and her older sister will then be permitted to marry anyone. Rabbi Yehoshua says that the surviving brother cannot remain married to either one. He will have to divorce his wife (since she is the sister of his yevama, with whom he has a Torah-level relationship) and do halitza (ceremony releasing one from yibum) with the yevama (since she is the sister of his divorced wife on a Rabbinic level). The Gemara questions how Rabbi Eliezer can recommend mi'un, given the statement of bar Kappara that mi'un is an example of something that should always be avoided. The Gemara responds that in this situation, where mi'un will facilitate a mitzva, it can be encouraged. The Talmud Yerushalmi also teaches that a Jewish court will never encourage mi'un, and that we always find mi'un discussed as an initiative of the girl. Rabbeinu Hananel relates a tradition from the time of the Ge'onim that in order to avoid the possibility of mi'un, the practice of marrying off an underage girl was abandoned. According to the Maharshal, the Ashkenazi leadership declared a ban on anyone who does mi'un – although this was a topic of some dispute, as is clear from the Rema, Even ha-Ezer 155:10.
Yevamot 108a-b: A Statement of Refusal
23/06/2022 - 24th of Sivan, 5782
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Our Gemara quotes a baraita that discusses mi'un - refusal - and how it works: Our Rabbis taught: What is regarded as mi'un? — If she said, 'I do not want So-and-so as my husband,' or 'I do not want the engagement that my mother or my brothers have arranged for me.' Rabbi Yehuda said even more than this: Even if while sitting in the apiryon (bridal litter) and being carried from her father's house to the home of her husband, she said, 'I do not want So-and-so as my husband,' her statement is regarded as a declaration of refusal. Rabbi Yehuda said more than this: Even if, while the wedding guests were reclining in her husband's house and she was standing and waiting upon them, she said to them, 'I do not want my husband So-and-so,' her statement is regarded as a declaration of refusal. Rabbi Yosei bar Yehuda said more than this: Even if, while her husband sent her to a shopkeeper to bring him something for himself, she said, 'I do not want So-and-so as my husband,' you can have no mi'un greater than this one. The Meiri examines each of the cases in an attempt to show that each one adds a new element that we would not have been able to understand from the previous one; in each case her statement belies her actions, yet we accept her statement to be mi'un. If she is being carried in a bridal litter to her husband's house, circumstances seem to show that she is willing to accept the marriage. This would certainly seem to be the case if she is serving the guests, or if she is doing her husband's bidding by shopping for him. Nevertheless, if she says that she is not interested in the marriage it is accepted as mi'un and the relationship is dissolved. Another approach is to view these statements as teaching that mi'un need not be done in a formal court setting, and even a conversation with family members, guests in the home, and even a statement made to a shopkeeper will be accepted as mi'un.