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

Yoma 66a-b: Other Possible Scapegoat Situations
16/06/2021 - 6th of Tamuz, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
A series of questions on our daf are directed at Rabbi Eliezer, who appears to make a serious attempt to avoid answering them directly. When asked whether the scapegoat could be carried if it became sick, Rabbi Eliezer answered "that goat can carry me and you." When asked whether a replacement for the person who escorted the scapegoat to the cliff could be inserted if the first person became ill, he answered "I and you shall be in peace." When asked whether the person who escorts the scapegoat should go down and kill it in the event that it did not die in the fall off the cliff, he answered by quoting a passage in Sefer Shoftim (5:31) "So may all your enemies perish, Lord." Perhaps the simplest way of understanding Rabbi Eliezer's answers is that he was suggesting that these situations would never occur, and therefore there was no need to discuss them in a serious way. Many of the commentaries argue that Rabbi Eliezer was not avoiding the questions, rather he chose to express his opinion on them in an indirect manner. His answer that the scapegoat could carry the people hinted that such carrying would be permissible on Shabbat. Saying that they should remain in peace indicated that anyone could step in and be a fitting substitute for the designated person who became ill. Finally, quoting the passage in Sefer Shoftim showed that he felt that once the commandment was fulfilled and the scapegoat was thrown from the cliff, no further involvement was necessary. In fact, the Jerusalem Talmud reports that the scapegoat occasionally escaped into the desert. The Gemara recounts several other questions that were presented to Rabbi Eliezer, about which he gives unclear responses, and explains that he was not simply trying to avoid the questions, rather he was abiding by his personal position of never offering a ruling that he did not have a tradition on from his teachers (see Sukka 27b, where Rabbi Eliezer explains this position). Nevertheless it should be noted that this holds true only for questions of a final legal ruling. With regard to the arguments and discussions that took place in the bet midrash , he certainly played an active role that included his own original suggestions.
Yoma 65a-b: The Connection of Two Goats
15/06/2021 - 5th of Tamuz, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In the Mishna at the beginning of the perek (62a) we are introduced to Rabbi Yehuda's opinion from which the Gemara on our daf concludes that the two se'irim – the goat chosen by lottery to be sacrificed and the one whose lot is to be sent to its death in the desert – are interconnected. As such, if the blood of the sacrifice is spilled before it has been sprinkled on the altar, obligating the sacrificial goat to be replaced, the scapegoat needs to be replaced, as well. Similarly, if the scapegoat dies before the blood of the sacrifice has been sprinkled, we will need to replace both se'irim. The question of a sacrifice that can no longer be brought because of an outside issue, leads the Gemara to introduce another case where Rabbi Yehuda offers an opinion, which seems to contradict his position in our Mishna. The Mishna in Massekhet Shekalim (2:1) teaches that there was no obligation for every individual to bring half-shekel coins to the bet ha-Mikdash, rather they could be collected in every community, exchanged for larger coins and sent with a messenger to Jerusalem. What if the money was lost or stolen en route to the Temple? The Mishna teaches that responsibility for lost or stolen money depends on when the money disappeared. In order for the communal sacrifices that were brought in the Temple to be considered to have come from the entire nation, even before the half-shekel donations arrived in the Mikdash, money was set aside on Rosh Hodesh Nisan for the purchase of sacrifices. This money – called Terumat ha-lishka – was, in essence, a loan that was to be repaid when the half-shekalim arrived. Our Mishna teaches that if Terumat ha-lishka had already been set aside, the money in the hands of the messenger was considered to have already reached the treasurer of the Temple. In such a case, the messenger swears to the Temple treasurer that he did not handle the money in an irresponsible fashion. If, however, Terumat ha-lishka had not yet been set aside, then the money still belonged to the townspeople when it was stolen. In such a case, the messenger must swear to them that he did not handle the money in an irresponsible fashion, and each of them will have to send another half-shekel to the Mikdash.
If the shekels that were lost are found or the thieves returned them, both these and those are shekels, i.e., they remain sanctified, but they do not count toward the amount due the following year. The next year the members of that city must donate new shekels; they have not fulfilled the second year's obligation by having given twice the previous year. Rabbi Yehuda says: They do count toward the following year. The Gemara asks: What is the reason for the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda? Rava said: Rabbi Yehuda holds that the obligations of this year are also brought the following year, and therefore it is possible to fulfill one's obligation for the next year by using the shekels of this year.
Abaye points out that were this true, Rabbi Yehuda should recommend holding the se'ir that could not be sacrificed this year for use next year. The Gemara concludes by quoting a passage (Bamidbar 28:14) that teaches that a sacrifice must be new every year. The shekalim, which are used also for other purposes aside from sacrifices, can be switched to another year according to Rabbi Yehuda.
Yoma 64a-b: How To Define Ritual Slaughter
14/06/2021 - 4th of Tamuz, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Torah teaches that it is forbidden to kill an animal and its son on one day (oto ve'et b'no lo tishhatu b'yom ehad - see Vayikra 22:28). This is understood by the Sages as forbidding the slaughter of a mother and its child together (some understand that it refers to the father, as well, if his identity is known). In a case where the se'ir ha-mishtale'ah - the scapegoat - has already been chosen and an emergency situation comes up (e.g. meat is needed for someone who is deathly ill, which would allow its preparation even on Yom Kippur) for which its mother is slaughtered, would the scapegoat still be sent off to be killed, or does the rule of oto ve'et b'no lo tishhatu b'yom ehad still apply? (The Ritva points out that the question would apply even if the mother was slaughtered in a forbidden situation on Yom Kippur, but the Gemara preferred to offer a case where it would, theoretically, be permissible.) The Gemara suggests that this is not a problem at all, since the language of the pasuk clearly states that what is forbidden is shehitah. Thus, the halakha is that if the mother animal is killed in some other fashion, it would be permissible to slaughter the child. Since the se'ir ha-mishtale'ah is to be killed by being thrown off a cliff in the desert, it would appear that the rule of oto ve'et b'no lo tishhatu b'yom ehad should not apply.
The Gemara answers: They say in the West, i.e., Eretz Yisrael, that pushing it off the cliff, which is the manner in which the scapegoat is supposed to be killed, is considered its slaughter.
In essence, the question debated on our daf is how narrowly we should define shehitah. Tosafot suggest that this Gemara is teaching us that it should be defined broadly, to mean that it was killed for its ritual purpose. In the case of the se'ir ha-mishtale'ah, that is accomplished by means other than traditional slaughter.
Yoma 63a-b: Do the Rules of Korbanot Apply to the Scapegoat?
13/06/2021 - 3rd of Tamuz, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Once the se'ir ha-mishtale'ah - the scapegoat - is chosen by means of the lottery, its status as a sacrifice is unclear. On the one hand, it is still an integral part of the Yom Kippur Temple service. On the other hand, it is not a korban la-Shem - a sacrifice to God - as it is to be sent to Azazel. Do the regular rules and regulations that apply to other korbanot apply here, or not? The Gemara on our daf examines pesukim and comes to conclusions that seem to distinguish between different laws. With regard to a mum - a blemish that would disqualify an animal from being brought as a sacrifice - the Gemara quotes a baraita that derives from pesukim that the rules of blemishes apply to the scapegoat, even though it will not be brought as a sacrifice. Yet, relating back to a baraita that was taught on a previous page, our Gemara points to the ruling that if the se'ir ha-mishtale'ah was slaughtered outside of the Temple precincts, the person who killed it would not be held liable for performing shehitat kodashim ba-hutz - slaughtering a consecrated animal outside the mikdash - since this animal is not destined to be brought as a sacrifice in the Temple. This ruling is applied by the Gemara to other types of consecrated animals, as well. If they have been donated to the Temple but are not to be sacrificed, they, too, will not be held to the laws of korbanot. Specifically, kodashei bedek ha-bayit - property of the Temple that is used for its upkeep and beautification - fall into this category. These things, which are donated to the Temple for purposes other than sacrifice, are subject to the laws of me'ila (see daf  59), but not the laws of sacrifices. There is a specific law forbidding the donation of an animal that could be brought as a korban to the Temple as kodashei bedek ha-bayit. An animal that is free of blemishes that could be sacrificed can only be consecrated to the Temple for that purpose.
Yoma 62a-b: Two Identical Goats
12/06/2021 - 2nd of Tamuz, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The sixth perek of Massekhet Yoma, which begins on our daf, focuses on the se'ir ha-mishtale'ah - the scapegoat - which is a central part of the Yom Kippur service (see Vayikra 16:20-22).
Mishna: The mitzva of the two Yom Kippur goats, the goat sacrificed to God and the goat sent to Azazel that are brought as a pair, is as follows, ab initio: That they will both be identical in appearance, i.e., color, and in height, and in monetary value, and their acquisition must be as one, i.e., they must be purchased together. And even if they are not identical, nevertheless, they are valid. And similarly, if he acquired one today and one tomorrow, they are valid.
The Tosafot Yeshanim point to a Gemara in Sanhedrin, which says that no two individuals are truly identical, and ask how two identical goats can possibly be found. The answer they suggest is that we must distinguish between people who have clearly identifiable characteristics and animals whose appearance may be much more similar. Nevertheless, they refer to a comment in the Jerusalem Talmud that seems to indicate that no two things will ever be identical - even two grains of wheat have differences between them. This leads the Tosafot Yeshanim to conclude that the Mishna merely means that the two animals should be as similar as possible in their general appearance. With regard to value, according to the Jerusalem Talmud, we are not concerned about their actual selling price, but rather about their true value. Even if they were purchased for different amounts of money, as long as they are of equal value we have met the requirement; if their values were significantly different, even if they cost the same amount of money (e.g. one of the sellers gave a discount to the Temple representative) the requirement would not be met. Finally, the Mishna recommends that they be purchased at the same time, and the commentaries explain that ideally they should even be purchased from the same merchant, as we try to limit anything that distinguishes the two animals from one another.
Yoma 61a-b: Can They Pick Up Where They Left Off?
11/06/2021 - 1st of Tamuz, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna (60a) teaches that the various activities that make up the Yom Kippur service must be done in the order described. If done out of its proper order, then lo asa klum - it is as though nothing was done. What happens, then, if the blood for haza’a (sprinkling) spills before the act is performed? Two opinions are brought. The Tanna Kamma rules that a new animal must be slaughtered and the entire process of the avoda (service) started over, since the slaughtering is supposed to take place at the beginning. Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Shimon argue, claiming that the blood from the newly slaughtered animal can be used immediately, since the haza'at ha-dam is a separate mitzva. The Gemara on our daf discusses whether this rule is true regarding other processes that took place in the Temple. Take, for example, the case of a metzora who has been examined by the kohen who declares that he is no longer leprous. The Torah teaches (see Vayikra 14:1-32) that a recovered metzora has to undergo a series of activities both outside (shaving off all body hair) and inside the Temple (handing the kohen the lamb to bring as a korban asham together with the log of oil). Once the sacrifice is brought, the kohen takes from the blood and places it on the metzora's earlobe, thumb and big toe. The kohen then takes the oil, first sprinkling it on the altar and then placing some on the metzora's earlobe, thumb and big toe, with the remainder of the oil being poured on his head. Finally, a korban hatat and a korban ola are brought. What if the oil spills after the sprinkling but before it is placed by the kohen on the body of the metzora? Does the same argument that we found in our Mishna with regard to the order of the Yom Kippur service apply here? Rabbi Yehuda ha-Nasi quotes Rabbi Ya'akov on this matter. At first it appears that Rabbi Ya'akov distinguishes between the two cases, but the Gemara quotes a baraita based upon which the Gemara concludes that Rabbi Ya'akov taught that the same rule applies to metzora, as well. Rabbi Ya'akov ben Kurshai lived in the generation prior to the canonization of the Mishna, and, as Rabbi Yehuda ha-Nasi's teacher, played an important role in its development. Some claim that he was Elisha ben Avuya's grandson.
Yoma 60a-b: Two Verses That Come As One
10/06/2021 - 30th of Sivan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
We learned on the previous daf that use of an object belonging to the Temple whose mitzva has already been fulfilled can no longer be considered me'ila (deriving benefit from an object consecrated to the Temple). The Gemara points out that there are a number of other things that belong to the Temple which retain their status even after the mitzva has been completed. They include: Terumat ha-deshen - the ashes that are removed from the altar at the beginning of the morning Temple service, and Bigdei kehuna - the vestments worn on Yom Kippur by the kohen gadol, who removes them after he completes the avoda (service).
Consequently, they are two verses that come as one, i.e., they share a unique halakha not found elsewhere. And there is a principle: Any two verses that come as one do not teach, i.e., an analogy may not be derived from these two similar cases. Instead, they are considered exceptional instances that cannot serve as models for other cases.
Generally speaking, the Talmud derives general principles from a passage written in one place and applies them in other places where they logically apply, unless there are specific indications in the pasuk that limit its applicability. In a case like ours, where the Torah specifically teaches the same rule in two places, it is a clear indication that we do not have a general principle, but rather a rule that applies specifically in these two places and nowhere else. There are occasions when the Gemara can prove that the cases are so different from one another (or that each one has a unique quality about it) that we would not be able to extrapolate from one to the other. In such a case, the Gemara would suggest that we can, in fact, apply the rule more generally, even though it is taught by the Torah in both cases. The Gemara does point out that there is an opinion which allows applying a rule generally even if it does appear in the Torah in two places. According to this opinion, the fact that the rule is repeated twice simply indicates that the Torah wants to emphasize the general applicability of that rule. Even that opinion, though, recognizes that if a rule is repeated three times, then it is limited in its scope and cannot be applied to other cases in the Torah.
Yoma 59a-b: Deriving Benefit From the Blood of a Sacrifice
09/06/2021 - 29th of Sivan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna on the previous daf taught that the remnants of the blood from the sacrifices were poured down a drain on the altar, from where they emptied into the Kidron and were sold as fertilizer. Our Gemara quotes a baraita that teaches a difference of opinion between the Sages with regard to the status of this blood - specifically, whether the rules of me'ila would apply to it. Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Shimon believe that me'ila applies, while the Hakhamim argue that it does not. Me'ila is, in essence, stealing or deriving benefit from something owned by the Temple. Once something is consecrated to the Temple, it is forbidden for someone to derive benefit from it. The laws of me'ila are briefly mentioned in the Torah (see Vayikra 5:14-16), but the many detailed precepts associated with it are discussed at length in Massekhet Me'ila in the Talmud. The rules and regulations surrounding me'ila are more stringent than those in the rest of the Torah in that someone who derives such benefit will be held liable for it even if it was done accidentally, or even against his will. Similarly, someone who sends an agent to use something that belongs to the Temple will be considered to have been mo'el, even though in the rest of the Torah we rule that ein shali'ah le-devar aveira- a person cannot be considered to have sent someone else to perform a sinful act, but rather, everyone is responsible for their own actions. In Massekhet Me'ila we learn that there are different rules and regulations regarding various sacrifices and objects donated to the Temple and that the holiness attached to a given object will, on occasion, be removed. The discussion in our case revolves around the status of the blood from a sacrifice and whether the laws of me'ila apply to it. The Gemara asserts that the aforementioned disagreement between the tanna'im is only on a Rabbinic level, but on a Biblical level all are in agreement that there is no me'ila in our case. Several sources are given for the fact that the Torah does not forbid use of the blood, but the conclusion of the Gemara is that once the mitzva is completed, the rule of me'ila can no longer apply.
Yoma 58a-b: The Sprinkling of the Blood
08/06/2021 - 28th of Sivan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna on our daf describes how the kohen gadol, having completed the zerikat ha-dam - the sprinkling of the blood - on the parokhet of the Holy of Holies, now turns his attention to the zerikat ha-dam that he is obligated to do on the golden altar in the heikhal (see Vayikra 16:18). As the Torah commands, the kohen gadol takes the blood of the par (bull) and of the se'ir (goat), mixes them together, and places blood from the mixture on each of the four karnot ha-mizbe'ah ("horns" of the altar). According to the Tanna Kamma, the kohen gadol walks around the altar, sprinkling blood on each corner. Rabbi Eliezer disagrees, arguing that the kohen gadol stood in one spot and simply reached over the altar, sprinkling blood as necessary. To understand Rabbi Eliezer's position, it is important to remember that the mizbe'ah ha-zahav - the golden altar - was only two cubits tall and one cubit in length and width, which allowed him to easily reach over it.
Once the kohen gadol completed the sprinkling of the blood on the corners of the mizbe'ah, the Mishna teaches that he sprinkled blood on the altar itself (see Vayikra 16:19). And he would pour the remainder on the blood on the western base of the outer altar. On a related topic, the mishna teaches that he would pour the remaining blood of an offering, after it was sprinkled, on the outer altar, on its southern base. These remainders of blood from the outer altar and those remainders of blood from the inner altar are mixed in the canal beneath the altar and flow out with the water used to rinse the area to the Kidron River. This water was sold to gardeners for use as fertilizer. The gardeners paid for this water and thereby redeemed it from its sanctity. Failure to do so would render them guilty of misuse of consecrated property.
From this topographical map, which includes, in its center, the Second Temple-era platform on which the mikdash stood, it is clear that the Kidron valley, running to the east of the Temple Mount, is the natural run-off point for sewage from the Temple. The walls of the Temple Mount actually stand at the very edge of the banks of the dry river, in which the Shiloah spring flows.
Yoma 57a-b: The Blood on the Curtain
07/06/2021 - 27th of Sivan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Sprinkling the blood of the par (sacrificial bull) on the kaporet (ark cover) in the Holy of Holies as part of the Yom Kippur service is clearly commanded in the Torah (Vayikra 16:14). The Gemara on our daf quotes a baraita that teaches that in addition, there is a commandment is to sprinkle the blood in the direction of the parokhet (curtain), but not necessarily on the parokhet. This teaching brought Rabbi Elazar b'Rabbi Yosei to testify that on a visit to Rome he had the opportunity to examine the parokhet, and he saw drops of blood that he recognized as being from the Yom Kippur service. This was clear to him because the drops were in a straight row, and only the kohen gadol on Yom Kippur sprinkled the blood with such precision. The Me'iri points out that only on Yom Kippur did the kohen gadol stand close to the parokhet when he did the zerikat ha-dam. Other sacrifices that had zerika on the parokhet were done with the officiating kohen standing behind the golden altar, a distance of more than twenty amot from the parokhet, so it would have been impossible for the kohen to sprinkle the blood with any accuracy. Rabbi Elazar was the son of the tanna Rabbi Yose ben Halafta, and lived in the last generation before the redaction of the Mishna by Rabbi Yehuda ha-Nasi. Rabbi Elazar was, apparently, the greatest of Rabbi Yose's five sons, and already during his father's lifetime he was recognized and honored by his generation. During a difficult period for the Jews, Rabbi Elazar was part of a delegation to Rome together with Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai, which tried to get decrees against the Jews rescinded. Once in Rome they were miraculously given the opportunity to heal the Caesar's daughter, who had fallen ill. They took advantage of this opportunity, and after successfully healing her, were given the opportunity to examine the Caesar's coffers, which included the spoils of the Roman victory and sacking of the Land of Israel and the Temple. Rabbi Elazar's examination of the Temple remains allowed him to return to the Sages with information about a number of the utensils from the mikdash, including the parokhet, the tzitz, etc. For a description of the sprinkling of the blood in the Temple on Yom Kippur, see http://www.ou.org/torah/tt/5766/vayeira66/mikdash.htm
Yoma 56a-b: A Choice, After The Fact
06/06/2021 - 26th of Sivan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
While discussing Rabbi Yehuda's opinion about which we learned in yesterday's daf, the Gemara introduces the concept of beraira – literally, a choice. This concept is raised with regard to a number of issues in Jewish law, and the basic question that it raised is whether a choice can be made after the fact to take effect retroactively. For example, if someone purchases wine just before Shabbat that had not been tithed, can he announce that what will be left over will be the tithe so that it can be drunk on Shabbat? In this case, tithing cannot be done on Shabbat, so it cannot be set aside now. Can we rely on what will be left over at the end to permit the wine to be drunk beforehand? Our Gemara suggests that the question of accepting the concept of beraira is the point of disagreement between Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yehuda. Another example of beraira brought by the Gemara involves the case of creating an eruv tehumin for the purpose of extending the area outside of a city where a person wants to walk on Shabbat. Generally speaking, on Shabbat, a person is not allowed to walk more than 2,000 cubits outside of the inhabited area where he lives. This Rabbinic injunction – which is based on Biblical foundations – can be altered for a variety of reasons if the person creates an eruv tehumin. This involves placing food for a meal at the edge of the 2,000 ama (cubit) limit, indicating that for this person Shabbat is being established in this place. By doing so, he will now be permitted to walk 2,000 amot from the eruv, beyond his original limit (it should be noted that he did not gain any freedom of movement, he merely transferred it from one side of the city to the other). While the rule of eruv tehumin is accepted by all, there is a difference of opinion about a case where the resident wants to keep his options open. Can he place two eruvin, one on either side of the city, and say "if the guest scholar comes to the town to the east, I would like the eruv to the east to be effective; if he comes to the town to the west, then I would like the eruv to the west to take effect." This scenario is presented by the Gemara as another example of beraira, where we will only find out what we want after the fact. The halakha in these cases is that in cases of Biblical law we say that beraira does not work, but in cases of Rabbinic law we allow it to be applied.
Yoma 55a-b: Labels in the Temple
05/06/2021 - 25th of Sivan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The general principle that the Gemara works with is that kohanim zerizin hem – that kohanim in the Temple are always careful and efficient in their work. Nevertheless, the Mishna (53b) presents the position of Rabbi Yehuda that there was only one stand upon which the blood could be put down, because were there to be two stands, one for the blood of the par (bull) and one for the blood of the se'ir (goat) it would be possible to mistake one for the other, and the wrong blood may be sprinkled.
But in that case, let us place two pedestals and write on them which one is for the bull and which is for the goat. Rather, it is clear that Rabbi Yehuda does not accept that one may rely on writing in a situation where error is possible.
One place where clear designations were accepted in the mikdash was the shofarot – collection boxes for a variety of sacred purposes. Money was collected for use in the Bet ha-Mikdash in different ways. There were actually 13 collection boxes, which were called shofarot because they were shaped like a shofar – a ram's horn – with one end small enough for a coin to be placed into it and a larger end where the coins could be removed. (They were made in this way so that no one who came to deposit money would be suspected of stealing.) Each shofar was marked with the purpose of its money, so that no mistakes would be made. For example, one said "new shekalim" for the monies that were deposited for the fiscal year beginning in Nisan, one was marked "old shekalim" for the leftover monies from last year's collection, etc. The Me'iri points out that the money collected in these shofarot was only for general communal sacrifices. Other sacrifices, which needed to be "personalized" by having the owner place his hands on the animal prior to the sacrifice (semikha) could not be collected here, since the owner needed to accompany the animal that was purchased with his money. There are a number of other sacrifices that did not have shofarot because they were brought only occasionally, and only common sacrifices had collection boxes in the Temple. Based on the ruling regarding the shofarot, the Gemara concludes that even Rabbi Yehuda will have to admit that if the stands were clearly marked it should keep the kohen gadol from making an error. The conclusion of the Gemara is that Rabbi Yehuda fears that due to his weakness, the fasting kohen gadol may make mistakes that he would not have made otherwise.
Yoma 54a-b: And They Gazed Upon The Keruvim
04/06/2021 - 24th of Sivan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The discussion of the aron and its place in the first and second Temples leads the Gemara to discuss its appearance and its ultimate fate. Rav Ketina taught that when the Jewish people came to Jerusalem on the festivals, the kohanim would roll back the curtain to the Holy of Holies, allowing them to gaze upon the keruvim (the cherubs) on top of the ark. The keruvim were seen embracing one another and the kohanim would explain that they represented the relationship between God and the Jewish People, which was as significant and real as the love of a man and a woman. The Gemara attempts to clarify whether this story is told about the first Temple or the second one. We have already learned that there was no curtain in the first Temple, since the Holy of Holies was separated by a solid wall, yet there was no aron – and so, no keruvim – in the Second Temple. A number of answers are given by the Gemara to this question. Rav Aha bar Ya'akov says that the story took place during the second Temple period, and what the people were shown were not the actual keruvim, but a painting, as is indicated by the passages in I Melakhim (6:29, 35 and 7:36). The Me'iri explains that the "embrace" discussed here was the wings of the keruvim touching one-another, which represented the relationship between God and the Jewish people. Throughout the books of navi this relationship is described by use of the symbolism of a man and a woman. Reish Lakish teaches that when the first Temple was sacked by Nebuchadnezzar, they entered the Holy of Holies and saw the keruvim embracing, and they perceived it as something sensual, if not pornographic. They carried the aron out to the marketplace and made fun of the Jews for involving themselves in such things (see Eikha 1:8). The commentaries ask how this could have taken place, given that the Gemara teaches that the keruvim embraced only when the Jewish people were keeping the commandments. During the time when the Temple was being destroyed, certainly they were not on "good terms" with God!? Several answers are given. Some suggest that this happened specifically so that the Jews would be publicly embarrassed. Another explanation is that this referred to the painting, which always portrayed the relationship in its ideal situation. Finally, there are those who suggest that at the moment the Temple was destroyed the Jewish people had been punished – and forgiven, so their relationship with God had been repaired.
Yoma 53a-b: Taking Three Steps Back
03/06/2021 - 23rd of Sivan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna (52b) taught that having placed the coals and the incense in the Holy of Holies, the kohen gadol would back out of the kodesh kodashim the way he came, and, having completed his task, would say a short prayer. The Gemara explains that it was necessary to walk out backwards out of respect to God's presence in the Holy of Holies. Based on this, Rabbi Shmuel bar Nahmani quotes Rabbi Yonatan as teaching that anyone who left the Temple precincts did not turn his back on it, rather walked sideways as they left. Similarly a student who takes leave of his teacher should not turn his back on him, rather he should walk sideways. The Si'ah Yitzhak explains that it is difficult – and potentially dangerous – for someone to actually walk backwards, which is why the halakha is to walk away with one's head still facing the Temple (or teacher) as they leave.
Apropos the obligation of a student to walk backward when taking leave of his teacher, the Gemara discuses a similar topic. Rabbi Alexandri said that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: One who prays must take three steps backward upon concluding his prayer [the amida] and then recite: Peace, in a manner befitting one who departs from before the Holy One, Blessed be He.
According to the ge'onim, a person who is praying is surrounded by four cubits of Divine presence. When he completes his prayers he must step out of that setting by walking back three steps (three steps from the middle of four amot (cubits) would remove him from that area). Rav Yosef Karo in his Bet Yosef quotes Rav Hai Ga'on as explaining that this relates to the three levels of stones that were on the eastern side on which the kohanim walked up and down. The Gra and the Maharsha relate this to the story that the Gemara tells about Nebuchadnezzar who honored God by taking three steps on his behalf, for which he received great reward. According to the Gemara (Sanhedrin 96a) Nebuchadnezzar served as a secretary and scribe for a previous Babylonian monarch. Once, when Nebuchadnezzar was absent from work, another one of the royal scribes drafted a letter to be sent to the king of Yehudah, Hizkiyahu. The letter began: "Greetings to King Hizkiyahu! Greetings to the city of Jerusalem! Greetings to the great God!" When Nebuchadnezzar returned to work and discovered how the letter was written, he objected, saying "you call Him 'the great God,' and then you mention Him last?!" Nebuchadnezzar insisted that the letter be redone, writing: "Greetings to the great God! Greetings to the city of Jerusalem! Greetings to King Hizkiyahu!" The problem was that the messenger had already been dispatched to Jerusalem with the first version of the letter in his hand. Nebuchadnezzar ran out to call the messenger back and redo the letter, running three steps to catch the messenger. The Talmud credits this behavior for his ascension to power.
Yoma 52a-b: Concealed Items
02/06/2021 - 22nd of Sivan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
After describing how the kohen gadol would walk between the curtains in order to enter the Holy of Holies, the Mishna on our daf teaches that he would put the shovel containing the coals between the poles of the aron (the Ark of the Covenant). The Gemara attempts to understand whether the Mishna is discussing the first or the second Temple. As we learned on the previous daf, in the first Temple, there were no curtains, but a wall. In the second Temple, however, there was no aron!? The Gemara explains that the Mishna means to say that the kohen gadol placed the shovel in the place where the aron was supposed to be, and that it is discussing the second Temple period. Why was there no aron in the second Temple? The Gemara quotes a baraita that the aron had been hidden away towards the end of the first Temple period by King Yoshiyahu, who understood that the passage (Devarim 28:36) which described the exile was referring to his time. The Radak, in fact, explains that this is the passage that was highlighted in the sefer Torah discovered during Yoshiyahu's reign (see the story in II Melakhim 22). Our Gemara teaches that according to that tradition, several other items that were on display in the Temple were concealed together with the ark. They included the jar of manna, Aharon the High Priest's staff and the shemen ha-mish'ha, the flask of oil used for anointing. The shemen ha-mish'ha was made from afarsimon (which may be identical to the tzari mentioned in the Torah), which was, apparently, the plant Commiphora apobalsamum. This is a small tree or shrub that stands from 10 to 12 feet high, with wandlike, spreading branches. The best perfume that can be extracted from it drips from the seeds, but it is usually produced by boiling the branches. The oil that is extracted from this plant was occasionally used as a medicine, but more as incense or perfumed oil. The afarsimon was considered so valuable that at one point it was literally worth its weight in gold. The shemen ha-mish'ha was used to anoint kings and high priests. The Rosh points out that the need to anoint the high priest is a clear passage in the Torah (see Shemot 30:30), but there appears to be a prohibition to use the oil on any other person (see Shemot 30:32). How was the decision made to use this oil on kings, as well? He answers that the Gemara in Megilla understands that it is only forbidden to use this oil on a normal person. The king is not simple an adam (man) and therefore he does not fall into the category of the prohibition.
Yoma 51a-b: Walking between the curtains
01/06/2021 - 21st of Sivan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
How did the kohen gadol enter the Holy of Holies to perform the Yom Kippur service? The Mishna on our daf presents the opinion of the Tanna Kamma , who believes that the Holy of Holies was separated from the kodesh (Sanctuary) by a double curtain. The kohen gadol would enter the cubit-wide space between the two curtains, walk the width of the Temple, and enter the kodesh kodashim. The double curtain was introduced in the Second Temple to replace the wall that existed in the first Temple, which was an amah (cubit) thick. Rashi explains that since the second Temple was much taller than the first Temple, and the wall could not be thicker than a single cubit, it was impossible to build the wall so high, and it was replaced by the curtains. The idea of using a curtain came from the Mishkan, where there was a single curtain separating the different areas of the kodesh. Rabbi Yosei argues with the Tanna Kamma, claiming that even during second Temple times there was just a single curtain. The Gemara quotes three opinions about how the kohen gadol crossed the area of the kodesh, which included the menorah, the mizbe'ah and the shulhan.
  • According to Rabbi Yehuda the kohen gadol walked between the menorah and the mizbe'ah.
  • According to Rabbi Meir, he walked between the shulhan and the mizbe'ah
  • Rabbi Yosei suggests that he walked between the shulhan and the northern wall.
The Gemara explains that the difference between Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Yosei is based on their different opinions about which side of the Temple had the opening in the curtain. Rabbi Meir's opinion is based on his understanding of how the table was placed, and the concern that there was not enough room for the kohen gadol to walk along the wall. [caption id="attachment_11068" align="alignleft" width="300"] In this illustration the tables are positioned east to west along the length of the Sanctuary[/caption] When the first Temple was built, King Solomon added ten extra tables to the Biblically mandated shulhan. According to most opinions, these additional shulhanot did not exist in the second Temple, and there was certainly room for the kohen gadol to walk between the table and the wall. Nevertheless the tanna'im still argue, since the traditions of the first Temple were still kept during the second Temple period.
Yoma 50a-b: Pushing aside Shabbat
31/05/2021 - 20th of Sivan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
When is a sacrifice brought on Shabbat, and when do we need to wait until after Shabbat to bring it? One suggestion raised by the Gemara is that the distinction is whether the sacrifice is a communal one or if it is the sacrifice of an individual. According to this suggestion, a sacrifice brought by the community is doheh Shabbat ("pushes aside" Shabbat), while a personal sacrifice will wait until after Shabbat to be brought. Rabbi Meir points out that the par (bull) brought by the kohen gadol on Yom Kippur is a personal sacrifice, yet it is doheh Shabbat. Rabbi Ya'akov points out that a par he'elem davar shel tzibbur (the bull brought on behalf of the community when a mistaken ruling was given) is a communal sacrifice, yet it cannot be brought on Shabbat.
Rather, grasp this principle: Any offering that has a fixed time for its sacrifice overrides Shabbat and ritual impurity even if it is an individual offering; and any offering of no fixed time overrides neither Shabbat nor ritual impurity, and this is the case even if it is a communal offering. With regard to the issue at hand, as the emphasis of both Rabbi Meir's and Rabbi Ya'akov's statements is whether the offerings they referred to override Shabbat and ritual impurity, not their classification as individual or communal offerings, nothing can be inferred from their comments in this regard. Consequently, it remains possible that the bull of the High Priest is an individual offering.
The case of par he'elem davar shel tzibbur is presented by the Torah in Vayikra 4:13-21. There the Torah teaches that in the event that the court rules erroneously on a given case, and the majority of the community sins due to that ruling, the court will be obligated to bring a sacrifice on behalf of the community. This communal sacrifice replaces the individual sacrifices that would have been brought by every person who sinned, had they done so without the official sanction of the court. The Mishnayot and Gemara in Massekhet Horayot discuss this sacrifice, and a variety of opinions are offered there on how the community is defined. According to some opinions this rule applies not only when the bet din ha-gadol – the Great Sanhedrin – rules incorrectly, but also when the bet din of a given shevet rules and the majority of that tribe inadvertently sins based on that ruling. An open question remains regarding the status of kohanim and levi'im - are they considered to be independent communities, given that each of them had their own judicial system, or have they lost their status as communities since neither of them are a full shevet? Furthermore they do not have a specific share in the Land of Israel.
Yoma 49a-b: Deferring to one's elder
30/05/2021 - 19th of Sivan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi raised a dilemma: If the High Priest scooped and died, what is the halakha with regard to the possibility that another High Priest may replace him and enter with his handful? May the second priest enter the Holy of Holies with the incense that the first priest scooped, or must he start from the beginning of the process? Rabbi Hanina said to his students in excitement: Come and see that Sages from a later generation were able to ask a difficult question on par with the question of the earlier generations. Even I, Rabbi Hanina, asked this same question, which was posed by my elder, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi. The Gemara analyzes this comment: Is that to say that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi was older than Rabbi Hanina, which is why Rabbi Hanina referred to him as an early Sage?
One of the proofs brought by the Gemara that Rabbi Hanina was the more senior of the two is a statement made by Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi that he had received a ruling from Rabbi Hanina allowing him to drink shahalayim on Shabbat. The fact that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi turned to Rabbi Hanina for direction in this matter is understood by the Gemara to mean that Rabbi Hanina was the older man. Shahalayim is identified as juice of Lepidium sativum L., or cress - an annual herb commonly known as peppergrasses or pepperwort. It is generally used as a spice or salad green. Its fruits can be used as a medicine when ground up and mixed together with wine or vinegar, which was common practice in the time of the Talmud. The issue of drinking shahalayim on Shabbat stems from the Rabbinic prohibition against taking medicine on Shabbat. This includes not only food and drink that is taken for the purpose of healing, but also activities that are done solely for reasons of health, such as exercise, washing, etc. This, of course, applies only to situations where all that is involved is an issue of pain or discomfort. If there is a danger, or just the possibility of actual danger, then even activities forbidden by the Torah would be permitted, since piku'ah nefesh - danger to life - overrides the laws of Shabbat. The basis for the Rabbinic injunction is the concern lest someone were to grind and prepare herbs for use as medicine, which involves transgressing the melakhah of tohen on Shabbat. Once the Sages applied this rule, they employed it across the board, even in cases that do not involve grinding.
Yoma 48a-b: Carrying the blood
29/05/2021 - 18th of Sivan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
There are four activities that are considered essential to the sacrifice and must be done by a kohen. Following the slaughter of the animal (which can be done by someone who is not a kohen), the kohen must perform:
  1. kabalah - collecting the blood from the animal
  2. holakhah - carrying the container with the blood to the altar
  3. zerikah - sprinkling the blood on the mizbe'ah
  4. haktarah - burning the fats and innards of the sacrifice on the mizbe'ah
Of these four activities, the second one - holakhah - is qualitatively different from the others. As Rashi points out, the other three activities are clearly enumerated in the Torah, which commands that they be performed by a kohen, whereas holakhah is only hinted at in the text as an essential part of the service. In fact, as noted by the rishonim, if the sacrifice was slaughtered right next to the altar, the blood could be collected and sprinkled on the mizbe'ah without holakhah taking place at all, as long as the other three essential elements were performed correctly. Thus, there exists the possibility that not all of the rules that apply to the rest of the activities connected to the korban apply to holakhah. With this in mind, we can understand the question that is presented to Rav Sheshet - whether a korban is disqualified if holakhah was done by a kohen who carried the blood in his left hand (generally speaking, all of the avodah [service] in the Temple was done with the right hand). Rav Sheshet answers by pointing to the rule taught in our Mishna (47a), which dictates that the mahtah (shovel) was given to the kohen gadol to hold in his right hand, while the kaf (spoon) was held in his left hand. This is understood by Rav Sheshet to clearly indicate that holakhah can be done with the left hand, as well. Rav Sheshet points to the Mishna by using the expression tanituha, which means "you have already learned it in the Mishna." This expression, commonly used by Rav Sheshet, indicates that the question can be answered by examining Mishnayot that are commonly known.
Yoma 47a-b: A handful of incense
28/05/2021 - 17th of Sivan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The fifth perek of Massekhet Yoma begins on our daf.  In it the Mishnayot continue with the description of the Temple service performed by the kohen gadol on Yom Kippur. In particular, our perek focuses on the avodah (service) that is done inside the Holy of Holies, beginning with the burning of the incense and its placement in the kodesh kodashim. [caption id="attachment_10897" align="alignleft" width="300"] Priest scooping hands full of incense[/caption] The first Mishna in the perek teaches that, after collecting burning coals from the altar, the kohen gadol is handed two utensils - an empty kaf (spoon) and a mahtah (shovel) filled with finely ground incense. He then takes a handful of the ketoret from the mahtah and places it in the spoon (see Vayikra 16:12). The Mishna further teaches that the appropriate amount of ketoret that is to be taken is subjective, as it depends on the size of the kohen gadol's hands. This rule leads the Gemara to present the kohen gadol Rabbi Yishmael ben Kimhit, whose hands were so large that he would fill the spoon with four kabin of incense. Another interesting thing about Rabbi Yishmael ben Kimhit is that he is identified by his mother's name - Kimhit - rather than by his father's name, which is the common practice in the Talmud. The Maharsha explains that Kimhit must have been married to different kohanim and had children with each of them. The Gemara notes that Kimhit had the unique privilege of being the mother of seven kohanim, each of whom served as kohen gadol. The Gemara relates how, on separate occasions, each of them - including Rabbi Yishmael ben Kimhit - became ritually impure at the last moment and was replaced by one of his brothers. When asked what led to this honor, Kimhit attributed it to her great modesty, specifically that she kept her hair covered even inside her own home. The Sages reject this explanation, saying that others who behaved in a similar manner did not merit such a reward. The Jerusalem Talmud explains that the Rabbis did, in fact, appreciate Kimhit’s high level of modesty, but they were simply pointing out that there must have been other factors involved as well, since others who were equally careful about such things did not merit a similar reward.
Yoma 46a-b: Burning up the leftovers
27/05/2021 - 16th of Sivan, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Rabbi Meir is quoted by Rabbi Elazar in the name of bar Kappara as ruling that the innards of sacrifices that had not been burned up should be arranged on the altar and burned, even on Shabbat. The Gemara asks why this teaching needs to be presented, as Rabbi Meir's position on this matter is already known from his statement teaching that the sacrifices are arranged on the altar four times every day, and one of them was for such left-over parts of the korban. Similarly, Rabbi Meir rules that on Yom Kippur there are five times when the sacrifices are arranged on the altar, including one for burning the left-over parts of the sacrifices that had not been burned up prior to the beginning of Yom Kippur. Clearly Rabbi Meir permits burning these innards on Yom Kippur, which has the same level of prohibition as Shabbat. Various suggestions are made to find a hiddush - some new teaching - in the statement quoted in the name of Rabbi Meir. Rav Aha bar Ya'akov suggests that we may have thought that the only time sacrifices were burned on Yom Kippur was when it occurred on the first day of the week (Sunday), thus only Shabbat sacrifices - due to their high level of holiness - could be burned on Yom Kippur. Rabbi Elazar teaches us that according to Rabbi Meir, all sacrifices that were not burned up the day before can be arranged for burning on the altar on Shabbat. Rava objects to this answer, arguing that Rabbi Meir clearly said that sacrifices are arranged on the altar four times "every day." "Every day" certainly includes Shabbat. The Gemara concludes by saying kashya - we do not have an answer to this question. Rava introduces his question with an interesting comment. He says man hai d'lo hayyesh le-kimheh? -literally "who is this that does not care about his flour?" - a statement that merits some attention:
  • The Arukh explains that it means "who wastes his flour?" i.e. who is it that wastes the energy he gains from eating by not thoroughly using it for the study of Torah?
  • Rabbenu Elyakim suggests that it means "who is it that does not pay attention to his food and is not concerned whether he is eating wheat bread or barley bread?" i.e. he does not pay proper attention to what he says
  • The Ge'onim have a variant reading in this Gemara. Rather than lekimhei - "his flour," they read likame - "in front of him," meaning he does not notice even an obvious difficulty, i.e. the obvious question that Rava then presents.
Yoma 45a-b: Types of gold
26/05/2021 - 15th of Sivan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we learned on yesterday's daf  the Mishna (43b) discusses a number of differences between the way the ketoret was prepared by the kohen gadol on Yom Kippur and the way it was done on a regular day. One of the distinguishing features of the mahtah - the shovel for the ketoret - was its color. On a regular day, the golden mahtah was yellowish, but on Yom Kippur it was specially made to be a reddish-gold color. In our Gemara, Rav Ashi and Rav Hisda discuss the different types of gold that were made, most of which have sources in the description of King Solomon's wealth in Sefer Melakhim (see I Melakhim 10). Their descriptions range from metals that are identified by their place of origin - zehav ophir - to the quality and purity of the gold - zehav shahut, which is very malleable and spun like a hut (thread). Pure gold has a dark yellow color. It is a very soft metal that can be shaped and stretched very easily. When it is used to make useable utensils or jewelry, however, it is necessary to add other materials (e.g. silver, copper, etc.) in order to make pieces that are hard enough to be used. Even when very small amounts of other materials are added, both the physical quality and the color of the metal change drastically. The color can range from white as silver to a blood red to green as grass. The Me'iri identifies this gold with the type of gold called zehav parvayim that is mentioned by Rav Hisda, which is described as being reminiscent of the blood of the bulls that were sacrificed on Yom Kippur, and was, apparently, the highest quality gold. The Gevurat Ari explains that the reddish-gold metal used for the mahtah on Yom Kippur served to remind the kohen gadol of the sprinkling of the blood in the Holy of Holies.
Yoma 44a-b: How is this day different from all other days?
25/05/2021 - 14th of Sivan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna (43b) describes a number of differences between the way the ketoret was prepared by the kohen gadol on Yom Kippur and the way it was done on a regular day. For example, every day the coals needed for burning the ketoret would be picked up with a silver mahtah (shovel) and then transferred to a golden one, while on Yom Kippur a golden mahtah was used to pick up the coals and that same shovel was used to carry the ketoret into the kodesh ha-kodashim.
The mishna states: On every other day, a priest would scoop up the coals with a coal pan made of silver and pour the coals from there into a coal pan of gold. The Gemara asks: What is the reason the gold pan was not used to scoop the coals? The Gemara answers: Because the Torah spared the money of the Jewish people. Since the pan is worn away with use, it is preferable to use a less expensive silver pan. The mishna continues: But on this day, on Yom Kippur, the High Priest scoops up with a coal pan of gold, and with that coal pan, he would bring the coals into the Holy of Holies. The Gemara asks: What is the reason that on Yom Kippur only one pan is used? Due to the weakness of the High Priest. He has to perform the entire service by himself while fasting; using only one pan minimizes his exertion.
Our Gemara also quotes a baraita that mentions a difference between the daily ketoret and that of Yom Kippur that is not mentioned in the Mishna. Ben ha-Segan points out that only the ketoret of the Yom Kippur service had a niashtik. The source for the term niashtik is unclear. Some suggest that its source is Persian, while others identify it as being borrowed from the Latin Nasticiun. According to the vast majority of the commentaries, it is a covering of some sort. The Tosafot Yeshanim say it was a cover for the handle of the mahtah. This was necessary on Yom Kippur because the hot coals remained in the shovel for a fairly long time, and this made the handle of the mahtah difficult to hold. The explanation presented by the Ge'onim - which also appears to be the explanation given by the Jerusalem Talmud - is that it was a cover for the shovel itself, whose purpose was to keep the coals burning by protecting them. Rashi understands the word otherwise and argues that the niashtik were two rings that were placed on the mahtah so that they would make noise as the mahtah was carried. The Me'iri suggests that it was a type of flat bottom that was added to the mahtah, allowing it to be easily placed on the ground.
Yoma 43a-b: Interpreting parashat parah adumah
24/05/2021 - 13th of Sivan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara has been discussing the rules for the preparation of a para aduma – a red heifer – which is burned and its ashes used in the act of purifying someone who has become ritually defiled by coming into contact with a dead body (see Bamidbar 19). Aside from the inherent difficulty that exists in understanding this halakha, our Gemara records that the text of Bamidbar 19 is very difficult to decipher using the ordinary methods used by the Sages. Rabbi Asi reports in the Gemara that when Rabbi Yohanan and Reish Lakish would study the laws of para aduma, they barely succeeded in coming up with any new insights. The expression that Rabbi Asi used was that they only came up "with the footprints of a fox on a plowed field." This expression refers to the fact that a fox's footprints are among the smallest ones found in nature. This is due to the fact that a fox walks on its toes, and since a fox is very light and quick, it barely leaves an impression in the soil. The difficulty faced by the Sages was that ordinarily a methodology of Midrash can be applied to each parasha in the Torah that allows the Sages to move beyond the simple meaning of the text and derive more halakhot based on this methodology. With regard to para aduma there is no single method that can be applied to the entire parasha, making it very difficult to go beyond the established tradition in interpreting the text. Nevertheless, the Gemara does present some of the traditional interpretations of the parasha. For example, the parasha commands that the heifer be given to Elazar ha-Kohen. Who will play this role in the future? Can it only be a kohen gadol? Perhaps, as is the case with regard to sacrifices in general, even someone who is not a kohen can be the one who slaughters the animal. These are some of the questions discussed by the Gemara. The Gemara is certain that participation in preparation of the para aduma is limited to men, and women are excluded. Similarly, a tumtum or androgenus cannot participate. Both of these groups are people whose gender is unclear, the tumtum because we cannot tell whether it is a man or a woman, and the androgenus who shows both male and female sexual organs.
Yoma 42a-b: Jobs only a Kohen can do
23/05/2021 - 12th of Sivan, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Although we know that the entire Yom Kippur service is performed by the Kohen Gadol, nevertheless, Rav believes that he need not be the one who slaughters his par (the bull that is brought as a sacrifice by the kohen gadol). Rav explains that shehitah is not actually considered avodah (service), thus it can be done by anyone, even someone who is not a kohen. At the same time, Rav rules that a para aduma that is burned and whose ashes are used as part of the purification process for someone who came into contact with a dead body (see Bamidbar 19) – can only be slaughtered by a kohen. This is true, even though a parah adumah is not considered to be a korban at all. It is not slaughtered in the precincts of the Temple, rather on the Mount of Olives, and is considered kodshei bedek ha-bayit – holiness that stems from its use for the Temple, not an actual sacrifice.
Rav Shisha, son of Rav Idi, said: The slaughter of the red heifer by a non-priest is invalid. The halakha is just as in the case of appearances of leprosy, which, despite their not being a sacrificial service, still require the priesthood. Only a priest may declare the signs of leprosy to be pure or impure. It is apparent from this case that the logic of the a fortiori inference does not hold.
The Torah describes Biblical leprosy as a condition that can only be evaluated by a kohen. When a person sees a mark on his body that he suspects might be a nega tzara'at – a sign of leprosy – he shows it to a kohen who decides whether the nega should be disregarded, kept watch on, or declared to be leprosy. Even in generations where kohanim were not expert in evaluating the nega'im, they played an essential role. The trained Rabbi who examined the spot would offer his opinion about whether the nega was in fact leprosy, or not. In any case, the person remained tahor until such time as the kohen – basing himself on the recommendation of the Rabbi – would declare the individual to be ritually impure. Based on this we can conclude that there are halakhot that are the unique purview of the kohen, even though they are not connected directly with the Temple service. Rav suggests that para aduma is a similar case.
Yoma 41a-b: A strip of crimson
22/05/2021 - 11th of Sivan, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
We learned previously (see daf 39) that a number of miracles took place in the Temple during the time that Shimon HaTzaddik was serving as the Kohen Gadol. One of them was that the lashon shel zehorit – the red ribbon that was tied around the head of the scapegoat and the neck of the goat that was to be sacrificed – always turned white after the scapegoat was sent off to Azazel, indicating that the Yom Kippur service has been successful in obtaining atonement for the people. The Mishna on our daf describes how the lashon shel zehorit was placed on the two animals. In the Gemara, Rav Dimi quotes Rabbi Yohanan as teaching that there were two other occasions where a lashon shel zehorit was used, in the case of a metzorah (someone suffering from Biblical leprosy), where it was used as part of the purification process (see Vayikra 14:4), and in the case of a parah adumah (the red heifer) where it was used as one of the ingredients for making ashes that would be used in the purification process (see Bamidbar 19:6). In both of those cases, the Biblical sheni tola'at is identified with the lashon shel zehorit. This lashon shel zehorit (literally "a tongue [strip] of crimson") was a bundle of combed wool that was rolled into the shape of a tongue, and dyed red (carmine) with a crimson pigment derived from cochineal insect. These insects are found infesting various types of wood, and its blood is the source of this dye.   [su_row][su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_10863" align="alignright" width="300"] scale animal, Kermes Echinatus on a tree trunk[/caption] [/su_column] [su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_10862" align="alignright" width="300"] female eggs of kermes echinatus[/caption] [/su_column] [/su_row] One of the questions raised by the commentaries is how placing this ribbon on the animal was permitted - wouldn't it be considered making use of an animal that belongs to the Temple, which is forbidden?! The answer that is presented is that since this was done so that the Jewish people could get the satisfaction of seeing that the sacrifice was successful, and furthermore it is not true "work" to have a ribbon around an animal's neck or head, it is permitted.
Yoma 40a-b: What if the lot was drawn by the left hand?
21/05/2021 - 10th of Sivan, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
We learned previously (daf 39) that a number of miracles took place in the Temple during the time that Shimon HaTzaddik was serving as the kohen gadol. One of them was that the lottery always ended up with the animal that was to be sacrificed to God coming up in his right hand.
A baraita teaches: Rabbi Akiva's students asked him: If the lot for God was drawn by the High Priest's left hand, what is the halakha with regard to whether he may transfer the lot to his right hand? He said to them: Do not give the Sadducees an opportunity to dominate. If it is allowed, they will adduce this as proof of their claim that the halakhot are not absolute, and the Sages have the power to change them as they see fit.
During the latter part of the second Temple period there were sects of Jews who strayed from the traditional path of the Sages on one level or another. Among these "minim" were the early Christians, but mainly it was a variety of Gnostic sects. While there were major differences between the groups, all of them were similar in their rejection of the tradition as it was taught by the Sages. Among their accusations against the Sages was the claim that the Sages did not truly follow the Torah properly. The simple meaning of Rabbi Akiva's statement was that he wanted to defend the Sages from the accusation that they did as they chose. Rabbenu Hananel explains that if the lottery always turned up in the kohen gadol's right hand, this may – in their minds – offer support to those sects who believed that there was two powers ruling the world, God and Azazel. Were the lottery to always appear in the kohen gadol's right hand, that would show the supremacy of God over His "rival" – Azazel. Since it sometimes came up in the left hand, their "proof" was destroyed. The Meiri's explanation is that the minim would argue that the Sages were engaged in witchcraft and magic, were the lottery always to appear in the kohen gadol's right hand, so it was important that it should be presented honestly.
Yoma 39a-b: Drawing lots
20/05/2021 - 9th of Sivan, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Having finished describing the preparations for the avodah (holy service), the fourth perek of Massekhet Yoma begins on our daf with a portrayal of the service itself, beginning with the lottery where the kohen gadol drew lots to determine which of the goats would be sacrificed on the mizbe'ah and which would be the scapegoat, which would be sent to Azazel. The kohen gadol stood with his deputy to his right and the head of the family of kohanim who were serving in the Temple to his left. If the lot indicating that the animal was to be sacrificed to God appeared in his right hand, the deputy would call out "raise your right hand." If it appeared in his left hand, the head of the family of kohanim would say "raise your left hand." The Gemara quotes a baraita that teaches that for the forty years that Shimon HaTzaddik served as the kohen gadol, the lottery always came out with the animal to be sacrificed in his right hand. After his death, it occasionally came out in the right hand and occasionally in the left. The baraita continues with a list of other miraculous events that took place during Shimon HaTzaddik's tenure and stopped after his passing. It is difficult to identify Shimon HaTzaddik with certainty, since there were two kohanim – a grandfather and grandson – who were both named Shimon ben Honyo. It is possible that both of them were called by this name. According to the Mishna in Pirkei Avot, Shimon HaTzaddik was one of the last members of the Anshei Knesset ha-Gedolah, and from him begin the traditions of the Sages who we identify by name. The Talmud is replete with stories of his piety.
His contemporary, Shimon ben Sira waxes eloquent when describing Shimon HaTzaddik: The greatest among his brothers and splendor of his people… Who is concerned for his people, and strengthens them in times of trouble… How splendid he is when he steps out from behind the parokhet (curtain), As a shining star among the trees and as the full moon on a Holy day… (Ben Sira 49)
It is clear that even during his lifetime he was held in great esteem by his peers.
Yoma 38a-b: Those criticized for refusing to share their craft
19/05/2021 - 8th of Sivan, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Following the previous Mishna (37a) that complimented the people whose contributions to the Temple enhanced its service, the Mishna on our daf  lists individuals whose behavior was criticized by the Sages. Among them are two families of kohanim – Bet Garmu, who were responsible for baking the lehem ha-panim (shewbread) and Bet Avtinas, who were responsible for the ketoret. The condemnation of both of these families focused on their refusal to share the knowledge of their craft with others. The Gemara on our daf relates that in each case the Sages removed them from their positions and brought in experts from Alexandria in Egypt who were to teach how to do these things. In each case the experts could not create the same effect as the priestly families – they could not bake bread that would not become moldy, nor could they succeed in creating an incense whose smoke would rise in a straight line to the heavens – and the Sages eventually had to return them to their original positions – with a significant raise in their salaries.
In their defense, the baraita records their explanation for their behavior: They said: The members of our father's house knew that this house, the Temple, is destined to be destroyed, and they were concerned lest an unworthy man learn our skill of baking and go and engage in idol worship with that skill. Therefore, they attempted to prevent this skill from spreading beyond their family.
Rabbi Akiva records the story told to him by Rabbi Yishmael ben Loga, who once was picking herbs with the descendant of the Avtinas family, who began to cry and to laugh. He explained that he had seen the plant that was used to make the ketoret rise directly upwards, which reminded him of the loss of his family's prestige, but encouraged him to believe that it would be returned one day in the future. When asked to point it out, he refused saying that the family had sworn never to reveal the secret to others. [caption id="attachment_10691" align="alignleft" width="223"] Smoke raising herb, known today as leptadenia pyrotechnica.[/caption] [su_row][su_column size="1/2"][/su_column] [/su_row] The plant seen by the descendant of Bet Avtinas is referred to as ma'aleh ashan. Although the tradition identifying this plant has apparently been lost over the centuries, the generally accepted identification is with a weed called leptadenia pyrotechnica, a plant that grows in the southern part of the Jordan Valley and in the northern Sinai. This plant ignites very easily, and local Arabs have used it to make gunpowder and explosives. Lighting even one branch of the bush will cause it to burn up entirely in a very short amount of time, with flames reaching as high as ten meters.
Yoma 37a-b: Praised changes made in the Temple
18/05/2021 - 7th of Sivan, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna on our daf describes the preparations for the lottery that took place during the Yom Kippur service, where the kohen gadol drew lots to determine which of the goats would be sacrificed on the mizbe'ah and which would be the scapegoat, who would be sent to Azazel. The Mishna records that a kohen gadol named ben Gamla exchanged the traditional wooden pieces that were used for the lottery with golden ones, an action that met with the approval of the Sages. The kohen gadol about whom this story is told is Yehoshua ben Gamla, who served in the mikdash towards the end of the second Temple period. While he was still an ordinary kohen, he married the wealthy widow, Marta bat Baitus, who used her influence and affluence to arrange for him to be appointed kohen gadol. Although the Sages berated him for the means that he used to receive the appointment, they acknowledged his positive accomplishments in that position. Aside from the story in the Mishna, Yehoshua ben Gamla is best known for his role in establishing a public school system in which every Jewish child, rich or poor, would be able to study, commenting that were it not for his efforts, the Torah would have been forgotten. It appears that he can be identified with the kohen gadol Yehoshua ben Gamliel, who was among the last of the kohanim gedolim, who was killed during the destruction of the Temple. The mention of Ben Gamla's contribution to the mikdash leads the Mishna to enumerate a number of other individuals who made other changes that were praised by the Sages.
King Munbaz would contribute the funds required to make the handles of all the Yom Kippur vessels of gold. Queen Helene, his mother, fashioned a decorative gold chandelier above the entrance of the Sanctuary. She also fashioned a golden tablet [tavla] on which the Torah portion relating to sota was written. The tablet could be utilized to copy this Torah portion, so that a Torah scroll need not be taken out for that purpose.
Helene was the queen of Adiabene, a small kingdom in the north of Syria on the banks of the Euphrates. In the generation prior to the destruction of the second Temple, Helene, together with her sons Munbaz and Izates, began to study Torah with Jews who traveled through their kingdom, and eventually converted to Judaism. It appears that other members of the ruling elite did so, as well. Helene visited Jerusalem a number of times and made donations both to the Temple and to the destitute people living there. Her children followed in her footsteps, and even sent troops to support the Jewish uprising during the Great Revolt.
Yoma 36a-b: Placing hands on the animal
17/05/2021 - 6th of Sivan, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna (35b) describes how the kohen gadol performed viduy - confession - on the first sacrifice on his own behalf, asking for forgiveness for his own sins and those of his family. The Mishna teaches that the animal stands with its head facing southward and its face to the west, toward the Holy of Holies. The Gemara on our daf explains that, in order to do this, the animal is forced to turn its head while the kohen gadol does semikhah (places his hands) on the animal. The concept of semikhah, where the owner of a korban places both hands on the head of the sacrifice between its horns and presses down on it with all of his strength, applies to all sacrifices with the exception of a bekhor (a first born animal) and ma'aser beheimah (the tenth animal from the flock). It is during semikhah that the owner confesses his sins when the sacrifice comes as part of the process of repentance (a hatat or an asham), or expresses his thanks and praise when the sacrifice is a celebratory one, like a korban shelamim or todah (thanksgiving offering). Immediately after semikhah the korban is slaughtered and sacrificed. These activities are explained by the Ramban as representing the attitude that the individual should have with regard to his own self. Given that a sin is made up of thought, speech and activity, the person who brings a korban hatat will perform a number of actions, each of which will be an expression of a request for atonement on a separate part of the sin. He will:
  • do semikhah on it - representing the activity,
  • say viduy on it - representing the speech,
  • have the innards of the animal burned on the altar - representing the thoughts and desires of the individual.
Finally, the blood of the sacrifice will be sprinkled on the mizbe'ah, representing his soul. The idea is for the sinner to recognize that he has transgressed against God with his body and soul, and that in order to receive atonement for his actions, what is being done to the sacrifice really should be done to him.
Yoma 35a-b: Of priestly clothes and Heavenly tribunals
16/05/2021 - 5th of Sivan, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara discusses the law that allows a kohen to make his own clothing, on the condition that it is donated to the Temple (so that it is the property of the Temple when the avodah, or service, is done), and then tells the following story:
They said about the High Priest Rabbi Elazar ben Harsum that his mother made him a tunic worth twenty thousand dinars, but his fellow priests did not allow him to wear it because it was transparent and he appeared as one who is naked. The Gemara asks: And could he be seen through a garment made to the specifications of the priestly vestments? Didn't the Master say: The threads of the priestly vestments were six-fold? Since the clothes were woven from threads that thick, his body could not have been seen through them. Abaye said: It is like wine in a thick glass cup. His flesh could not actually be seen, but since it was very fine linen, it was somewhat translucent and his skin color was discernible.
Rabbi Elazar ben Harsum served as kohen gadol for eleven years, and the Gemara mentions his great wealth in a number of places. This story leads the Gemara to quote a baraita that describes the arguments that will be made by various people when they are called before the Heavenly tribunal:
  • To the poor person who says "I was so busy supporting my family that I did not have time to learn Torah," the response will be "were you poorer than Hillel, who was wretchedly poor and nevertheless attempted to study Torah?"
  • To the rich person who says "I was preoccupied with managing my possessions," the response will be "were you any wealthier than Rabbi Elazar ben Harsum who was exceedingly wealthy and nevertheless studied Torah?"
  • To the wicked person who says "I was handsome and preoccupied with my evil inclination," the response will be "were you anymore handsome than Yosef, who did not neglect Torah despite his beauty?"
The baraita goes into some detail with regard to each of these stories. Perhaps the best known is the story of Hillel, who worked daily for a small sum of money, which he divided between his family's needs and the entrance fee to the Beit Midrash. One Friday during the winter, when he could not find work, he climbed onto the roof of the study hall so that he could listen to the lecture. The snow began to fall and it was not until the next morning that Shemaya and Avtalyon noticed a form buried beneath three cubits of snow (the sheer volume of snow described by the baraita is unusual in Jerusalem, although after one of the infrequent snowstorms, the snow could pile up to such a height), at which point he was taken down into the Beit Midrash and revived. The idea of having a guard at the door to the Beit Midrash who would limit access was in existence at various times during the Talmudic period, specifically at the higher levels of learning. Apparently at the beginning of this period there was a sense that the Torah leaders should be from the upper class, so that they would be financially independent and thus not subject to pressures from wealthy individuals. This expressed itself in the collection of tuition at the door of the Beit Midrash. When, later in life, Hillel became the head of the academy, he ended this system. Nevertheless, the guard at the Beit Midrash door, whose job was to keep out students who were perceived as inappropriate for intense Torah study, was reinstated at various periods in history. It was only during the rule of Rabban Gamliel of Yavneh that entrance to the study hall was truly open to all.
Yoma 34a-b: Hardening metal on Yom Kippur
15/05/2021 - 4th of Sivan, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna (31b) describes the tevilah (ritual bath immersion) that is done by the kohen gadol on Yom Kippur, and closes with the comment that if the kohen gadol was elderly or particularly sensitive, they would add heated water to the water in the mikveh so that he could immerse himself more comfortably.
It was taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yehuda said: They would heat blocks of iron on Yom Kippur eve and cast them into the cold water of the ritual bath to temper its chill. The Gemara asks: But by doing so, doesn't he harden the iron, which is a labor prohibited on Yom Kippur? Rav Beivai said: The temperature of the blocks of iron did not reach the hardening point. Abaye said: Even if you say that the temperature of the iron reached the hardening point, the fact that the iron hardened when he placed it in the water is an unintentional act [davar she-ein mitkaven], which is permitted. His intention was to temper the chill of the water, not to harden the iron.
The concept of davar she-ein mitkaven - in which a forbidden act takes place, but the intent of the activity was for a different, and permissible, outcome - is discussed with regard to several halakhot. Specifically with regard to the halakhot of Shabbat there is a concept of melekhet mahashevet asrah Torah - that the Torah only forbade activities on Shabbat where there is intent for the final, forbidden outcome. It should be noted that, even with regard to the case of Shabbat, in a situation where a given activity will, without question, lead to a forbidden outcome taking place, we do not say that it is davar she-ein mitkaven, which would be permitted, but a pesik reisha, which would be forbidden. Thus, in our case, Abaye's explanation that we are dealing with a davar she-ein mitkaven will only solve the Gemara's problem if it is coupled with other reasons to permit it. In our case - as Abaye points out - tzoref (hardening metal) is only a Rabbinic decree. Since we have a principle that ein shevut ba-mikdash - that Rabbinic decrees do not apply in the Temple - it would be permitted.
Yoma 33a-b: Based on tradition
14/05/2021 - 3rd of Sivan, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
One of the first sections of the daily prayer book is korbanot, where there is a basic description of the Temple service, including the Biblical passages (beginning with a sacrifice that was not brought - Akedat Yitzhak, the binding of Isaac), Mishnayot, and statements from the Gemara. One of the selections that appears there is Abaye's description of the daily Temple service, which begins with the ma'arakha - setting the wood on the mizbe'ah on which the korbanot are to be burned - and concluding with the tamid shel bein ha-arbayim - the afternoon tamid (continual daily) sacrifice that closes the day on the Temple.
Abaye arranged the sequence of the daily services in the Temple based on tradition [mishmei d'gemara] and in accordance with the opinion of Abba Shaul.
Generally speaking the Sages of the Gemara make every attempt to attribute a statement they make to its source. In this case, where it is quoted in the name of "tradition [the Gemara]" (and similarly when the Gemara uses the term naktinan - "we hold"), it means that this teaching was well known in the Beit Midrash, so it could not be attributed to a particular sage; rather, it was part of the general tradition. With regard to Abba Shaul, it should be noted that "Abba" is a title that was given to sages before the title "Rabbi" came into common use. He was one of the tanna'im who, apparently, lived while the second Temple was still standing. Many of the teachings quoted in his name involve his recollections of the Temple and its service. It is likely that he was one of the students of Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai, which would place him during the period of the destruction of the Temple. Of the many mitzvot with which he was involved, burying the dead appears to be one that he was specifically devoted to. He is described as "long in his generation" which probably refers to both his physical appearance and the respect he commanded among his peers. Many of the rulings that are quoted in Abba Shaul's name appear to be his own opinion, yet they became the basis for practical halakhic rulings over generations.
Yoma 32a-b: Finding a textual source for the ritual immersions on Yom Kippur
13/05/2021 - 2nd of Sivan, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In presenting the source for the five tevilot (ritual bath immersions) that the kohen gadol performed as part of the Yom Kippur avodah (service), Rav Hisda uses the expression gemiri, which usually indicates that the issue under discussion is a halakhah le-Moshe mi-Sinai - an oral tradition handed down from Mount Sinai by Moshe Rabbeinu and thus has the authority of a Biblical law. Immediately following this statement, the Gemara quotes a series of sages who look through the pesukim  of the parasha about the avodah of the kohen gadol on Yom Kippur (see Vayikra 16) for indications that these five tevilot are mandated by the Torah. Tosafot ask why it is necessary to find a textual source for this halakhah, if we have already been told that it is a halakhah le-Moshe mi-Sinai? They answer that the halakhah le-Moshe mi-Sinai only indicated that there was a need for five tevilot, but did not specify when they were to be done - perhaps they could have been done one after the other. The search in the pesukim is an attempt to see where they belong in the course of the avodah. Several other answers are given, as well:
  • Some explain that it is common to find in the Gemara that a halakhah which has been derived from one source is still looked for in other source texts, as well.
  • The Tosafot Yeshanim argue that the halakhah le-Moshe mi-Sinai simply taught that there were five changes of venue (between the Kodesh and the Kodesh Kodashim) in the course of the avodah on Yom Kippur. The search in the pesukim is for a source that teaches that tevilot were necessary between each part of the avodah.
  • The Havot Ya'ir explains that, according to the Rambam, the term gemiri does not always mean that the tradition is a halakhah le-Moshe mi-Sinai. Sometimes it simply means a tradition was derived based on passages in the Torah and their hermeneutic interpretations.
Yoma 31a-b: Mikveh Water
12/05/2021 - 1st of Sivan, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna (30a) teaches that the kohen gadol immersed in the mikveh five times during the course of the Yom Kippur Temple service. All of these tevilot (immersions) took place in an office called the beit ha-parva, except for the first one, which took place on top of the water gate, which was near the office of the kohen gadol. Abaye comments on this that the water source for these mikva'ot, a spring called Ein Eitam, had to be 23 cubits higher than the ground level of the Temple itself, since we know (based on a Mishna in Massekhet Middot 2:3) that the gates in the Temple were 20 amot high, and the mikveh that stood above the water gate needed to be at least three cubits deep in order to hold the correct amount of water. There is a difference of opinion involving Tosafot and the Ge'onim about the three cubits needed for the mikveh. The Ge'onim understand that the extra three cubits are needed to accommodate an average person, and generally speaking people are about three cubits tall. According to Tosafot three cubits is the normal height of a person, not counting his head. The logic here is that when a person enters the water, his body mass displaces enough water to cover his head, as well. [su_row][su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_10660" align="alignnone" width="225"] Section of the lower aqueduct, which carried water to Jerusalem over the course of many generations[/caption] [/su_column] [su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_10661" align="alignleft" width="222"] Ritual bath at Herodion[/caption] [/su_column] [/su_row] The Ein Eitam spring is identified as the third of Solomon's Pools, which are located about three kilometers south-east of Beit Lehem, not far from the present-day community of Tekoa. From this spring, as well as others in the vicinity, there is a lengthy channel - more than 20 kilometers - that winds between the Judean mountains and through underground tunnels, carrying water to the Temple Mount. The Ein Eitam spring today stands 760 meters above sea level, which is about 25 meters above the height of the Temple Mount. With the destruction of the second Temple, this channel was destroyed, as well. It was later rebuilt and was part of the water system that brought water to Jerusalem for generations.
Yoma 30a-b: The role of ritual immersion
11/05/2021 - 29th of Iyyar, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna on our daf teaches that no one was permitted to enter the azarah (courtyard) to participate in the Temple service unless he first performed tevilah - immersed in a mikveh. On Yom Kippur, the kohen gadol performed this tevilah five times, as he walked back and forth between different parts of the mikdash. Rashi explains the Mishna (the Jerusalem Talmud makes this point, as well) as referring not only to someone who entered the precincts of the Temple to perform avodah (service), but to anyone who had reason to enter the sanctuary, even if he was not planning to participate in the Temple service. Some explain that this is necessary only because a kohen who is found on the premises may be invited to participate in some aspect of the avodah, and therefore must be prepared to do so. The discussion of tevilah as preparation to enter the mikdash leads the Gemara to teach of another person who needs to go to the mikveh in order to take care of his business in the Temple: a metzorah - a person who has recovered from a case of Biblical leprosy. As is taught in Vayikra 14, and elucidated upon in Massekhet Nega'im, a person who shows the signs of leprosy to a kohen is declared a metzorah. Such a person will be obligated to sit outside the community encampment until he recovers from his illness. When he sees signs of recovery, he again approaches the kohen, and if he is found to have healed, he waits a week (during which time he remains ritually defiled, but to a lesser extent than during the previous week), at which point he will do tevilah. On the following day he will go to the Temple to bring the appropriate sacrifices and will have blood from the sacrifice placed on his thumb and big toe, at which point he is considered, once again, to have fully recovered and to be ritually pure.
Yoma 29a-b: Is the thought worse than the act?
10/05/2021 - 28th of Iyyar, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna (28a) taught that the kohanim were sent to search the skies on Yom Kippur morning in order to ascertain when the sun had risen and the Temple service could begin. The explanation for this procedure was that an error had once taken place and the light from the moon had been mistaken for the light of the sun. In the course of discussing how this error could have taken place, the Gemara explains the difference between how the light of the sun is perceived, in contrast with the light of the moon, and concludes that only on a cloudy day could such a mistake have been made. This discussion leads the Gemara to quote a list of comparisons made by Rav Nahman.
The hazy light of the sun through the clouds is more damaging than the light of the sun itself...Dazzling sunlight, which shines through cracks in the clouds, is more harmful to the eyes than direct sunlight...Thoughts of transgression are worse than transgression itself...
The sin that is usually referred to by the Gemara when it uses the term aveira is a sin of a sexual nature. Thus, it appears that Rav Nahman is saying that forbidden sexual thoughts are worse than forbidden sexual acts, a statement that demands explanation. Rashi explains that this does not refer to the severity of the sin, but to the lust that accompanies thinking about the sin, which is even greater than what exists during the sinful act itself. Nevertheless, most commentaries understand the statement to be referring to the severity of the thought and the act. In the Moreh Nevuchim, the Rambam explains that the mind, the intellect, is on a much higher level than physical activities. Therefore, sinning in one’s thoughts creates greater damage to the person than does an act of sinning. The Ohr ha-Hayyim suggests that once someone has sinned, he has satisfied his inner need and is ready to begin a process of teshuvah – repentance – leading to atonement. Sinful thoughts which are never acted upon, however, never satisfy the person, and he will never try to undo or repent from them.
Yoma 28a-b: Light all the way to Hevron
09/05/2021 - 27th of Iyyar, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The third perek of Massekhet Yoma begins on this daf . From here until the end of the Massekhta, the unique Temple service of Yom Kippur is described, from the first tevilah (ritual immersion) of the kohen gadol, until he completes the avodah (service). This perek specifically is an introduction, as it discusses the preparations and special arrangements made for the avodah, without getting into the details of the avodah itself.
Mishna: The appointed priest said to the other priests: Go out and observe if it is day and the time for slaughter has arrived. If the time has arrived, the observer says: There is light [barkai]. Matya ben Shmuel says that the appointed priest phrased his question differently: Is the entire eastern sky illuminated even to Hebron? And the observer says: Yes.
This was necessary because of an error that had been made once, when the light from the moon fooled the kohanim and they began the avodah before the appropriate time, and the korban tamid (the first sacrifice of the day) had to be destroyed. There are different opinions about the statement made by Matya ben Shmuel. According to the Rambam, Matya ben Shmuel was one of the tanna'im, and he was disagreeing with the first position in the Mishna, arguing that the question presented in order to clarify that sunrise had occurred was whether it was light in the east all the way to Hevron. Tosafot Yeshanim argues that Matya ben Shmuel was the name of the kohen who was responsible for the lotteries that were done in the Temple (his name is mentioned in that context in Massekhet Shekalim). If we accept this explanation, then he is not arguing, rather the Mishna is describing that after the first sighting of the sun, Matya ben Shmuel followed by asking whether it was light all the way to Hevron. The Meiri explains that Matya ben Shmuel's question was whether the kohen watching for the sun could see all the way to Hevron in the south. In any case, the Jerusalem Talmud points out that everyone agrees that the reference was specifically to Hevron because they wanted to invoke the city where the forefathers of the Jewish people are buried.
Yoma 27a-b: Arranging the wood
08/05/2021 - 26th of Iyyar, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
We learned on daf 24 that there is a difference of opinion between Rav and Rabbi Levi regarding the question of whether the terumat ha-deshen could only be done by a kohen, which leads to a larger question – generally speaking, which parts of the Temple service had to be done by kohanim. According to Rav, if a Temple activity
  • that involved placing something on the altar, and
  • was a complete avodah (service) (i.e. nothing needing to be done afterwards)
was done by a non-kohen, he would be liable for death. Levi disagreed, ruling that the terumat ha-deshen – cleaning ash from the altar – was also forbidden to non-kohanim, even though it involved removing something from the altar, rather than placing something on the altar. The Gemara on our daf introduces another part of the Temple routine and asks whether it falls into the category of activities that can only be done by kohanimsiddur ha-ma'arakhah – arranging wood on the mizbe'ah (altar). Rabbi Asi quotes Rabbi Yohanan as ruling that it can only be done by a kohen. The idea of siddur ha-ma'arakhah as an essential part of the service is derived by the Gemara from a passage in Vayikra 6:5, which is understood to be a command to the kohen to arrange the wood on the altar so that the first sacrifice of the day, the korban tamid, would be brought on the new day's kindling wood. In response is a question raised by Rabbi Zeira that arranging the wood is only the beginning of the process of the daily Temple service, so why should it be so severe as to be forbidden to non-kohanim on the threat of death? The Gemara responds that Rabbi Yohanan considers it to be avodah tamah – a complete activity – since it concludes the preparations of the altar for the new day. On this point Rabbi Yohanan is in disagreement with Rav and Levi, who do not include this as one of the activities limited to kohanim, apparently because they see siddur ha-ma'arakhah as just the beginning of the avodat ha-yom (service of the day).
Yoma 26a-b: How many kohanim are needed to perform the service?
07/05/2021 - 25th of Iyyar, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishnayot on today's daf  focus on the number of kohanim needed to perform the various tasks that made up the daily Temple service. Obviously, any "special events" that were going on on a given day would affect the number of kohanim that were needed. The Mishna teaches, for example, that the korban tamid, which was the first sacrifice brought every day, was brought by nine, ten, eleven or twelve kohanim, depending on the day. The korban tamid itself needed nine kohanim.
  • On Sukkot, when there also was a water libation, an extra kohen was needed to carry the jug of water.
  • The afternoon korban tamid needed eleven kohanim; the additional two kohanim carried extra wood to the altar.
  • On Shabbat there were eleven kohanim involved, two of whom carried the levonah (frankincense) for the lehem ha-panim (shewbread).
  • On Shabbat of Sukkot, there also was a kohen carrying the jug of water, so there were a maximum of twelve kohanim involved.
The Gemara teaches that the nisukh ha-mayim – the water libation on Sukkot – was only done with the morning tamid. As a proof to this a baraita is brought that recounts a fascinating story. As part of the avodah (service), the kohen who was to pour the water as part of the ceremony was instructed to raise his hand up so that it would be clear that he was doing the avodah properly. This was instituted because once a kohen poured the water on his feet instead of on the altar, and the enraged crowd pelted him with the etrogim that they were holding in their hands. The Gemara sees this as a proof that the nisukh ha-mayim was done in the morning, since the people were all carrying their etrogim. The background to this story involves the different sects that lived during the second Temple period and their approaches to the Oral Law taught by the Sages. Many of the kohanim were Tzedukim, who did not accept the traditions of the Sages. Unlike nisukh ha-yayin – the wine libation – which is clearly written in the Torah, the nisukh ha-mayim – the water libation – was a tradition handed down from Moshe on Mount Sinai, and it was not accepted by the Tzedukim. The particular story referred to in our Gemara, is described in great length in Josephus. According to him, the individual who poured the water on his feet rather than on the altar was a Hasmonean king, Alexander Yannai, who rejected the teaching of the Sages. After the people – who supported the interpretation of the Sages – pelted him with etrogim, the king summoned the non-Jewish guard, and they killed many of the people who were on the Temple grounds.
Yoma 25a-b: The daily offering
06/05/2021 - 24th of Iyyar, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The second Mishna in this perek appears on our daf,  and it discusses the second daily lottery, which determined which of the kohanim would slaughter the morning tamid sacrifice, who would sprinkle the blood, who would clean out the interior altar, who would clean out the menorah and who would place the various pieces of the butchered animal on the altar. In all 13 different kohanim received their assignments for the day as a result of this lottery. The korban tamid  was a korban olah, which was completely burned on the altar. As with all korbanot olah, after its slaughtering, the animal was divided up into large pieces, which were brought to the altar to be sacrificed. The details of how the animal was divided, which pieces were paired together, how they were carried to the mizbe'ah, etc. are not explained here, as that is the focus of Massekhet Tamid. [caption id="attachment_10637" align="alignleft" width="300"] Priests bringing limbs to the altar[/caption] The Mishna does teach that the first parts of the animal that were brought to the altar were ha-rosh ve-ha-regel – the head and the legs. Rashi explains that the head is mainly bones, while the legs are mainly meat, so they complement each other while being sacrificed. The Meiri, on the other hand, suggests that they are both mainly bones, and as such they are put together because of their similar nature. The Jerusalem Talmud explains that these two parts of the korban were brought to the altar together as the first parts to be sacrificed because as the animal walks it stretches its neck forward and lifts its legs to move. Thus it is sacrificed in the same manner in which it walked. The description here in Massekhet Yoma of the active participation of the kohanim in the daily procedure in the Temple acts as a contrast to the avodah  of the kohen gadol on Yom Kippur, where he is the sole individual carrying out all of the avodah of that special day.
Yoma 24a-b: Limited to Kohanim Only
05/05/2021 - 23th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
What parts of the Temple service are limited specifically to kohanim and forbidden to others? The Gemara on our daf brings a difference of opinion on the matter. According to Rav, there are four activities:
  • Zerikah - Sprinkling the blood
  • Haktarah – burning the incense
  • Nisukh ha-mayim – pouring water on the altar on Sukkot
  • Nisukh ha-yayin – the wine libation on the altar.
Rabbi Levi accepts the position of Rav, and adds one more Temple activity as being limited to kohanimterumat ha-deshen – cleaning ash off of the mizbe'ah (altar) in the morning. [caption id="attachment_9544" align="alignleft" width="214"]Lighting of the menorah Lighting of the menorah[/caption] Several other activities in the Temple are mentioned as other possible avodah (service) that is limited to kohanim. As an example, lighting the menorah, which the Gemara concludes is not an avodah. The Even Shlomo asks how the Gemara can come to this conclusion, given the repetition in the Torah that describes the lighting of the menorah as an activity done by the kohanim specifically (practically, it would be impossible for someone who is not a kohen to light the menorah, since its location in the kodesh (holy, inner part of the Temple) would not allow access to anyone who is not a kohen). The Li Le-yeshuah answers that when referring to hadlakat ha-menorah (lighting the menorah), the Torah is not only talking about lighting the menorah, but also all of the preparations, including cleaning out the remnants of yesterday's flame and setting up the wicks for today's lighting. These activities are certainly not avodah, nevertheless they are the responsibility of the kohanim and not of anyone else. The Gemara does not come to a clear conclusion in the argument between Rav and Rabbi Levi, as two baraitot are quoted each of which supports a different position. The Rambam in Hilkhot Bi'at Mikdash, rules like Rav, inasmuch as the prohibition against a non-kohen performing the service in the Temple is limited to a complete avodah, and not one that is only preparatory to others – like cleaning the altar.
Yoma 23a-b: Putting Ritual Purity Above Murder
04/05/2021 - 22th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna (22a) described the competition that took place on the ramp of the mizbe'ah (altar) in order to choose the kohen who would perform the terumat ha-deshen – cleaning ash from the altar – every morning. According to the Mishna, the practice was abandoned in favor of a lottery system after one of the kohanim was pushed off the kevesh (ramp) and was injured. Our Gemara tells of an even more frightening story that was related to this competition. A baraita records that once two kohanim were racing up the ramp and one drew a knife and stabbed the other.
The father of the boy, i.e. the young priest who was stabbed, came and found that he was still convulsing.He said: May my son's death be an atonement for you. But my son is still convulsing and has not yet died, and as such, the knife, which is in his body, has not become ritually impure through contact with a corpse. If you remove it promptly, it will still be pure for future use. The Tosefta comments: This incident comes to teach you that the ritual purity of utensils was of more concern to them than the shedding of blood. Even the boy's father voiced more concern over the purity of the knife than over the death of his child.
This story indicates the low level to which the priesthood had fallen towards the end of the Second Temple period, that they were more concerned with the laws of ritual purity than the fact that someone had been murdered. The baraita further records that a kohen named Rabbi Tzadok stood up and lectured the assembled people, comparing the murder that took place to a case of eglah arufah (see Devarim 21:1-9) – the ceremony that was done in a case where a dead body is found between two cities, and the murderer cannot be found. The leaders of both cities come as representatives of their respective cities to state that their city did all it could to protect this person, and to ask for atonement. The Gemara points out that the case in the Temple was not truly analogous. In our case, the identity of the murderer was known, and the murder took place in Jerusalem, a city that is excluded from the regulations of eglah arufah. The Gemara explains that the purpose of the analogy was to make the people realize the severity of what had happened. As the Ritva explains, if in the case of eglah arufah, where it is not clear that anyone from the nearby city was responsible for the man's death, nevertheless the city's representatives had to accept a level of responsibility, in our case there is certainly a need for soul-searching after such a murder had taken place. It appears that the Rabbi Tzadok of this story lived at the very end of the Second Temple period, and is the same individual about whom the Gemara in Gittin relates that he fasted for 40 years in the hope that the Temple would be saved. The Gemara in Gittin also tells that one of Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai's requests from the Emperor Vespasian was to send doctors to heal Rabbi Tzadok. Nevertheless, some identify Rabbi Tzadok as someone who lived in a much earlier period.
Yoma 22a-b: Racing to Serve God
03/05/2021 - 21th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
There is a long-standing debate among the commentaries as to whether the Kohen Gadol performed every part of the Temple service on Yom Kippur, or if other kohanim participated in performing parts of the service that are not directly connected with the unique avodat Yom ha-Kippurim (Day of Atonement service). The Ramban argues that the second perek of Massekhet Yoma, which begins on our daf, appears to support the position that other kohanim were involved as well, since the entire discussion in the perek revolves around how to choose which kohen will perform what part of the avodah. Others argue that this is simply a discussion of the procedure that took place on other days, and it is brought here as a tangent, since the last Mishna in the first perek discussed terumat ha-deshen, or cleaning the ash off of the altar. In any case, the Mishna on our daf teaches that there was a race every morning in the Temple, as all of the kohanim interested in performing the terumat ha-deshen would line up and race up the ramp to the top of the altar. The one who arrived first had the honor of cleaning the ash.
Initially, that was the procedure; however, an incident occurred where both of them were equal as they were running and ascending on the ramp, and one of them shoved another and he fell and his leg was broken. And once the court saw that people were coming to potential danger, they instituted that priests would remove ashes from the altar only by means of a lottery. There were four lotteries there, in the Temple, on a daily basis to determine the priests privileged to perform the various services, and this, determining which priest would remove the ashes, was the first lottery.
The Me'iri explains that this curious method of choosing the kohen, the race, stemmed from the fear that no one would want to perform this particular avodah, as cleaning the ash from the altar hardly seems to be a great honor. Nevertheless, other commentaries ask how such a contest could be instituted in the Temple, a place where an atmosphere of solemnity should prevail. The Tosafot Yeshanim explain that this wasn't a normal race. In fact, the kohanim were obligated to walk up the ramp as they ordinarily did, placing heel in front of toe and again, heel in front of toe. The kohen who succeeded in doing this most quickly in a dignified manner was crowned the winner and rewarded with the opportunity to clear the altar to begin the day's Temple service.
Yoma 21a-b: The Miracles of the Temple
02/05/2021 - 20th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Rav Yehuda taught in the name of Rav that when the Jewish people came to Jerusalem to fulfill the commandment of aliya la-regel (pilgrimage) on the holidays of Pesah, Shavu'ot and Sukkot, there was always enough space for everyone to bow at the appropriate time, even though there was little room on the Temple grounds and people needed to stand close together. This was one of the ten miracles that are recorded by the Mishna in Massekhet Avot (see Chapter 5). These miracles include:
  • No woman ever miscarried from smelling the meat of the sacrifices
  • The meat of the sacrifices never spoiled
  • No fly was ever seen in the Temple
  • The High Priest never became impure before Yom Kippur
  • There was never a problem with the Omer that was cut, neither with the shtei ha-lehem (the 2 loaves offered on Shavu’ot), nor with the lehem ha-panim
  • The people would be crowded together, and yet would have room to bow down
  • Neither snake nor scorpion ever injured someone in Jerusalem
  • No one ever complained that there was no room for him in Jerusalem.
Although these are all described as miracles, in his commentary on Aggada, Shem-Tov ibn Shaprut argues that they can all be explained rationally. In his opinion, these "miracles" were not unnatural events, but rather it was the care and concern engendered by the holiness of the Mikdash that kept these things from taking place. For example, the kohanim were so careful and committed to their work that they made sure that the sacrifices were brought in a timely fashion to prevent the meat from spoiling or attracting flies, the communal sacrifices were never found to have problems, and the Kohen Gadol never became impure. Jerusalem was such a popular and busy place that snakes and scorpions never found ruins or abandoned areas to breed. And thanks to the high level of friendliness and concern for others, the people looked out for one another and made sure that there was always room for everyone
Yoma 20a-b: Keriat Hagever
01/05/2021 - 19th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
On Yom Kippur, as on every day, the very first activity in the Temple was terumat ha-deshen - removing ash from the altar. The Mishna on our daf  teaches that on an ordinary day, the terumat ha-deshen took place around the time of keriat hagever, but on Yom Kippur it was done earlier, at about midnight. The Gemara asks a simple question of definition. What is keriat hagever? Two answers are offered by the Gemara:
  • Rav says it is the time when the appointed person announces that it is time.
  • Rabbi Sheila says that it is the time when the rooster crows.
Some of the commentaries understand that this is a question of semantics, and that the time of the terumat ha-deshen would be the same, no matter how the term keriat hagever is defined. The Me'iri, however, argues that the crowing of the rooster begins well before the official time, and that there is a practical difference between the opinions of Rav and Rabbi Sheila. Our Gemara does not reach a conclusion about this argument. In the Jerusalem Talmud a proof is brought to support Rav. It appears that the name of the individual whose job it was to announce the time for the terumat ha-deshen was "ben gever," which could not possibly mean that he was the son of a rooster. Others point out that the halakha at the time the Temple was standing forbade raising chickens in Jerusalem, making it more likely that the term keriat hagever refers to the man's announcement.
Rav happened to come to the place where Rabbi Sheila was the most prominent local Torah scholar and Rav was not yet known. There was no disseminator to stand before Rabbi Sheila to disseminate his lecture to the public. Rav stood before him to disseminate the lecture, in the course of which Rabbi Sheila mentioned keriat hagever. Rav interpreted the concept for the audience and said: What is the meaning of keriat hagever? It means the call of the man. Rabbi Sheila said to him: And let the Master say it is the call of the rooster.
This then led Rabbi Sheila to enter into a discussion with him, until he realized that Rav had taken the position of amora on his behalf. It was common practice in the time of the Mishna and the Gemara that the head of the academy would lecture while sitting, usually in Hebrew. It was the task of the amora, or meturgeman, to translate the lecture into Aramaic and repeat it in a loud voice to the listeners. The sages of the Gemara called themselves amora'im because they saw their job as merely clarifying and translating the teachings of the true masters - the tanna'im.
Yoma 19a-b: The High Priest's Oath
30/04/2021 - 18th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
According to the Mishna (18b), when the preparations of the Kohen Gadol were done, he was transferred by the Sages to the priestly elders who had him take an oath that his performance of the service would be done according to the teachings of the Sages. The Mishna concludes that following the oath, both the Kohen Gadol and the elders who executed it turned away and cried.
The Gemara explains: He turned aside and cried due to the indignity that they suspected him of being a Sadducee; and they turned aside and cried, as Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: One who suspects the innocent of indiscretion is afflicted in his body. The High Priest might in fact be beyond reproach and they may have suspected him falsely.
The Sadducees (Tzedukim) were one of a number of sects that lived during Second Temple times, who had different interpretations of the passages that described the avodat Yom ha-Kippurim (Day of Atonement service), and they wanted to ensure that he would carry out the service properly. It was a particular concern because some of the essential parts of the service took place in the Holy of Holies where no one could see what was being done aside from the High Priest himself. According to our Gemara, the elders cried because they were forced into a situation where they had to actively suspect someone of bad intentions, and Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi taught that someone who suspects another without cause will suffer for having done so. According to the Jerusalem Talmud the elders cried because of the deterioration of the Second Temple period, when even the High Priest could not be trusted to carry out the Temple service properly. The main argument between the Sages and the Tzedukim revolved around the definition of the passage (Vayikra 16:2) "for I appear in the cloud upon the ark-cover." The Tzedukim interpreted this to mean that the incense cloud of the ketoret had to be lit by the kohen before entering the Holy of Holies (the Sages understood that the ketoret was lit only after the Kohen Gadol was inside). According to the Me'iri, lighting the ketoret outside appears to be a form of avodah zara, as it looks like the kohen is lighting the incense to honor a power outside the kodesh kodashim as well as the One inside the Holy of Holies.
Yoma 18a-b: The High Priest's Diet
29/04/2021 - 17th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna on our daf  teaches about the Kohen Gadol's final preparations before the Yom Kippur service. Aside from reviewing the text of the commandments as described in the Torah (Vayikra 16), the Sages would also bring him the various types of animals that were going to be sacrificed so that he would be able to practice. They also monitored his diet on erev Yom Kippur, limiting the amount of food that he ate so that he would not become tired. The Gemara quotes a series of baraitot that describe other limitations that were placed on his diet. Among the items that are mentioned - milk products, eggs, and wine - are things that the sages feared might bring about a seminal emission, which would make him tameh (ritually defiled) and unable to perform the avodah - the Temple service. The Jerusalem Talmud asks why this is a concern, since the Talmud lists ten miracles that took place in the Temple during its years of operation (see Yoma 21a), and one of them was that the High Priest never became a ba'al keri (someone who experiences a seminal emission). The first answer given simply explains that, in general, we cannot rely on miracles and need to do our utmost to avoid potentially dangerous situations. The second answer given distinguishes between the first Temple, when the priests were on a high level, and the Second Temple, when they were not deserving of such miracles. [caption id="attachment_9511" align="alignleft" width="300"]Arugula leaves (gargir) Arugula leaves (gargir)[/caption] Another food that was restricted was the gargir. Eruca sativa, is an annual grass that grows to a height of 15-60 centimeters. During the Second Temple period the seeds of this plant were used in place of mustard. It grew both as a domesticated plant and in the wild throughout Israel. In several places in the Talmud it is mentioned as being a particularly good medicine for the eyes.
Yoma 17a-b: The High Priest Chooses His Portion
28/04/2021 - 16th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In the second perek of Massekhet Yoma we will learn how the different jobs in the Temple were divided up among the kohanim who were working in the Mikdash at a given time. As we learned earlier (14a), the Mishna in our perek teaches that during the week before Yom Kippur it is the Kohen Gadol who burns the ketoret, arranges the menorah, and sacrifices the korban tamid (“perpetual” daily offering) on the altar. The Mishna adds that throughout the year it is the prerogative of the Kohen Gadol to choose which korbanot he wants to sacrifice and be the first to choose his portion from the korbanot. The Gemara on our daf quotes a baraita that describes how the Kohen Gadol would walk through the Temple and claim the right to sacrifice a given korban by saying, "I will sacrifice that Olah" or "I will sacrifice that Minha." He chooses what portion he will receive by saying, "I will eat that Hatat" or "I will eat that Asham." Similarly, he receives one of the two loaves that are brought on Shavu'ot and four or five of the loaves of shewbread that is distributed weekly from the shulhan. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi's position is that he always gets five, since he deserves half of the ten loaves that are distributed, based on the passage in Vayikra 24:9 "And it shall be for Aharon and his sons," which he understands to mean that Aharon (the High Priest) shares equally with his sons (the other Kohanim). The Rashash points out that there is support for the idea that the Kohen Gadol received five loaves of the lehem ha-panim from the story related in Sefer Shmuel (21:4) when David is running away from King Sha'ul, and arrives in Nov, the city of kohanim. Upon asking for food, Akhimelekh, who was apparently the Kohen Gadol at the time, tells David that he only has "holy bread." David agrees to take the lehem ha-panim (after assuring Akhimelekh that his men are in a state of ritual purity), and he receives the five loaves that he requested.
Yoma 16a-b: The Layout of the Temple
27/04/2021 - 15th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Much of this daf  is devoted to a description of the plan of The Temple Mount itself, with detailed descriptions of the area from the Ezrat Yisrael (Court of the Israelites) and south of it. The furthest north that a Jewish person who was not a kohen could enter was the Ezrat Yisrael . Kohanim were allowed in the Ezrat Kohanim (The Priests’ Courtyard), as well. Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya'akov reported on the set-up of the Temple: The Ezrat Nashim was an open square of 135 cubits by 135 cubits. In each corner of the square were small, open courtyards, each of which was 40 square cubits. Each of these courtyards served a specific purpose:
  • Lishkat ha-nezirim was where the nazir would have his hair cut and burned under the pot where his sacrifice was being cooked.
  • Lishkat dir ha-etzim was where kohanim who could not perform the Temple service due to a mum (physical blemish) were employed in checking the wood for worms or bugs. The Me'iri explains that this was necessary either because nothing non-Kosher could be brought on the altar, or because disgusting things would be inappropriate to be brought on the mizbe'ah (altar)
  • Lishkat ha-metzora'im was where people who recovered from Biblical leprosy would go to the mikveh
  • Lishkat bet shemanya was where the oil and wine used for the offerings and libations were stored.
[su_row][su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_9492" align="alignleft" width="237"]Women's courtyard and its chambers Women's courtyard and its chambers[/caption] [/su_column] [su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_9493" align="alignleft" width="300"]Chamber of the Nazirites Chamber of the Nazirites[/caption] [/su_column] [/su_row]
With regard to the southwest chamber, Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya'akov said: I forgot what purpose it would serve. Abba Shaul says: They would place wine and oil there for the meal-offerings and libations, and it was called the Chamber of the House of Oils. From this mishna it may be inferred that the tanna who taught the mishnayot in tractate Middot is Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya'akov, as that is why the mishna finds it necessary to mention that he forgot the purpose of one of the chambers.  
[caption id="attachment_9494" align="alignright" width="300"]Altar in the middle of the courtyard, according to Rambam Altar in the middle of the courtyard, according to Rambam[/caption] With all the detail that appears in the Gemara, there are still a number of things that are left unexplained. For example, the azara - an area that included not only the altar, but the area of the slaughterhouse, as well - is not clearly detailed. The Gemara teaches that the altar was in the middle of the azara, opposite the entrance to the Holy and the Holy of Holies. Since there had to be room for the apparatus of the slaughterhouse, including taba'ot (rings to hold the animals), shulhanot (tables on which the animals were butchered), and nanasim (hooks on which the animals were hung), the Rambam explains that only part of the altar was opposite the entrance to the ulam (Sanctuary) and the heikhal (the Temple proper). The kevesh (ramp) leading to the mizbe'ah (altar) was to the south, leaving room on the northern side for the tables, rings and hooks.
Yoma 15a-b: The Sprinkling of the Blood
26/04/2021 - 14th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The main atonement offered by a sacrifice is brought about by sprinkling – called a matanah (placing) – the blood of the sacrifice on the altar. The matanah was done differently depending on the sacrifice. A regular korban olah would have the blood sprinkled on two corners of the altar so that it would splash on two sides each time, in order to assure that all sides of the mizbe'ah (altar) had gotten blood on them (shetei matanot she-hen arba = two "placings" that are four). The altar had a red line running around it called the hut ha-sikra which indicated the upper and lower halves of the mizbe'ah. In the case of the olah described above, the blood was sprinkled on the lower half. In the case of an animal that was brought as a sin offering, the blood would be sprinkled on the top of the altar, near each of the raised corners, where each side was sprinkled once (arba matanot = four "placings"). Rabbi Shimon Ish HaMitzpa suggests in our Gemara that the blood of the daily sacrifice – the olat tamid – should be put below the hut ha-sikra with two separate matanot, almost a compromise position between the ordinary olah and the hatat. To contrast this placing of the blood, the Gemara points to a Mishna later on in Massekhet Yoma (53b) which describes how the Kohen Gadol entered the Holy of Holies and sprinkled the blood towards the kaporet covering the aron (ark) "one upwards and seven downwards." In that case there was no strict line demarcating the difference between the upper and lower halves, and the Gemara explains that he sprinkled the blood ke-matzlif. The Me'iri explains this expression as meaning that he placed the blood without paying particular attention to whether they were directly above or below one another. Another explanation given by the Tosafot ha-Rosh suggests that the difference was the direction in which the Kohen Gadol held his hand – whether he held it upwards or downwards.
Yoma 14a-b: The Morning Temple Service
25/04/2021 - 13th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The second Mishna in the massekhet appears on our daf and it puts forward the basic curriculum that was offered to the High Priest during the week that he was in training prior to his officiating at the Yom Kippur Temple service. Under ordinary circumstances, the everyday activities in the Temple were performed by one of the kohanim whose turn to participate in the avodah (Temple service) fell out on a given day. During the week before Yom Kippur, however, the Kohen Gadol performed all of these services himself. The Mishnah teaches that he:
  • Burned the daily incense (see Shemot 30:1-8) half of which was done in the morning, with the other half in the afternoon.
  • Arranged the wicks in the menorah (see Shemot 30:7) which involved cleaning out the ashes from the previous day's wicks. Some say that it also included burning off whatever remained of the oil so that the menorah would be ready to be lit in the evening.
  • Sacrificed the korban tamid on the altar.
The Gemara is concerned with the order of the morning Temple service as described in the Mishna. It appears from our Mishna that the ketoret comes before setting up the menorah, while the Mishna in Tamid seems to have the order the other way around. Rav Huna suggests that the author of Massekhet Tamid was Rabbi Shimon Ish HaMitzpa, which could explain discrepancies between the different versions. Rabbi Shimon Ish HaMitzpa appears very rarely in the sources, but we do know that he lived during the period of Rabban Gamliel ha-Zaken while the Second Temple was still standing. From our Gemara it appears that he was recognized as the individual who edited the basic Mishnayot in a given massekhet, with other sages only adding and editing some of it further. The conclusion of the Gemara is that Rabbi Shimon Ish HaMitzpa is not the primary author of Massekhet Tamid, as some of his positions do not match those of the massekhet. What is clear, however, is that it is not uncommon for the Gemara to assume that the majority of a given massekhet was authored by a single sage, with only minor additions or clarifications from others.
Yoma 13a-b: What, Then Happens to the Replacement?
24/04/2021 - 12th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The first Mishna of the massekhet (2a) taught that a "replacement" kohen was appointed in order to ensure that there would be a High Priest who could perform the Yom Kippur service in the event that something were to happen to the Kohen Gadol. What happens to a kohen who replaces the High Priest when the High Priest recovers and can once again serve in the Temple? The Gemara (12b) brings a tosefta in which Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yosei disagree about such a case. According to Rabbi Meir, the original Kohen Gadol returns to his position, and his replacement continues to keep all of the rules and regulations of the Kohen Gadol. Rabbi Yosei rules that the original Kohen Gadol returns to his position, and that his replacement can no longer serve in the Temple at all. He cannot serve as the High Priest because the presence of two Kohanim Gedolim would lead to enmity between them; he cannot return to the position of a regular kohen because of the principle ma'alin ba-kodesh ve-lo moridin – we raise people to higher levels of sanctity, but do not bring them down. The Gemara on our daf rules like Rabbi Yosei against Rabbi Meir, noting that even Rabbi Yosei agrees that if he were to perform the Temple service it would be acceptable after the fact, and that he could serve as the High Priest upon the passing of the Kohen Gadol. Several questions are raised by the commentaries regarding the Gemara's ruling. Tosafot points out that it is rather unusual to find the Gemara offering a ruling on a topic that is not pertinent in the contemporary period. This ruling, after all is hilkhita le-mishiha – a rule applicable in the Messianic age. The R"i ha-Lavan asks why there is any need to state a ruling like Rabbi Yosei, given the Talmudic principle that we follow Rabbi Yosei in all of his arguments with Rabbi Meir. With regard to the first question, some suggest that this discussion does have contemporary application, specifically in a case where a community leader is incapacitated and replaced, only to recover his abilities. How should he and his replacement be treated? Perhaps we can derive some direction from this discussion in the Gemara. Some attempt to answer the two questions by turning them against one another. Since the question is not one that applies to a real situation today, we cannot apply the normal rules of following Rabbi Yosei against Rabbi Meir, forcing the Gemara to explicitly state that the ruling is like him.
Yoma 12a-b: Dividing up Jerusalem
23/04/2021 - 11th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Upon entering the Land of Israel, each tribe received a portion appropriate to its needs. Which shevet (tribe) received the city of Jerusalem? A quick review of a map indicates that Jerusalem was split between the tribes of Yehuda (to the south) and Binyamin (to the north). Our Gemara argues that there is a disagreement between the tanna'im. The Tanna Kamma believes that Jerusalem was a separate entity, and that it was not divided between the shevatim; Rabbi Yehuda argues that Jerusalem was divided, and, in fact the border between Yehuda and Binyamin ran through the Temple itself, with the Temple Mount offices on Yehuda's side and the sanctuary and Holy of Holies on Binyamin's. A baraita that is brought describes how there was also a "panhandle" of sorts that encroached northward and included the area of the altar within the official boundaries of shevet Yehuda. The Si'ah Yitzhak explains that all opinions agree that the area where the City of Jerusalem was built had originally been split between Yehuda and Binyamin. The disagreement in our Gemara is whether when the decision was made to make Jerusalem the spiritual center of the Jewish people the entire city became a separate entity, or perhaps Jerusalem remained within the confines of the two shevatim, and only the area of the Temple itself had extraterritorial status. There are some sources that do not place the altar entirely within the boundaries of shevet Yehuda, rather within shevet Binyamin, with the exception of the south-eastern corner that was in Yehuda. Even so, the Gemara relates a tradition that Binyamin himself "saw" (apparently in a prophetic vision) that the altar – or a significant part of it – would not be in his portion, and was so disturbed by this that as a consolation prize he became the host (ushpizekhan) to the Almighty in that the Holy of Holies was built in his portion.
Yoma 11a-b: The Mitzva of Mezuza
22/04/2021 - 10th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara on our daf continues the discussion of the mitzva of mezuzot, offering examples of doorways that might not be obligated in mezuza for a variety of reasons. One baraita that is quoted by the Gemara rules that a Beit haKnesset as well as a house belonging to a woman or a house that is owned by two or more partners is obligated in mezuza. In response to the question Peshita!? – isn't this obvious!? – the Gemara argues that we may have thought that the passage obligating beitekhah ("your house" in the singular, masculine – see Devarim 11:20) limits the mitzva to a single, male owner. Since, however, the mitzva of mezuza offers the promise of a long life (Devarim 11:21), it is applied to everyone who deserves and desires such – including women. Many commentaries ask why this particular passage is chosen for distinction. Given that most of the Torah is written in the masculine, yet is applied to all Jews, why should we make a particular point of emphasizing that this mitzva may only have been applied to men? The Gevurot Ari points out that we are dealing with a unique case. The entire parasha was written in the plural, with the single exception of the passage about mezuza, which is written in the masculine. Thus it is reasonable to consider the possibility that it refers specifically to men. Another rule taught on this daf is the obligation to have mezuzot checked twice every seven years in a private home, and twice every 50 years in public places. Rashi explains the difference based on the principle that we try to keep from disturbing the public. The Sefer HaEshkol says that it is a practical issue. A mezuza in a public place is seen by all, and if there was a problem with it, it would be noticed by someone who would bring it to the attention of the authorities. The Rosh argues that checking a public mezuza carries with it an element of danger, an explanation that fits in with a story brought in the Gemara.
There was an incident involving an examiner [artavin], who was examining mezuzot in the upper marketplace of Tzippori during a period when decrees were issued against the Jewish people, and a Roman official [kasdor] found him and collected a fine of one thousand zuz from him.
Yoma 10a-b: Mezuzot in the Beit HaMikdash
21/04/2021 - 9th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Did the doorways in the Beit HaMikdash have mezuzot on their doorposts? According to the baraita on our daf  most of the offices in the Beit HaMikdash did not have mezuzot. The exception was the lishkat parhedrin, which, as we learned in the Mishna (2a) at the beginning of the massekhet, served as the residence of the High Priest during the week of preparations prior to Yom HaKippurim, thus obligating it in the mitzva of mezuza. Rabbi Yehuda argues that there were many offices in the Temple that served as residences, and did not have mezuzot. He claims that the mezuza on the door of the lishkat parhedrin was a special gezeira. The Gemara asks why, according to Rabbi Yehuda, the offices in the Temple did not need mezuzot even if they served as residences. Rava suggests that Rabbi Yehuda demands that a house be built for use throughout the year in order for it to be obligated in a mezuza. Since the Temple residences were not used on a regular basis, they would not be obligated. The Gemara does not ask a similar question on the Tanna Kamma's position that only the lishkat parhedrin was obligated in the mitzva of mezuza. The Si'ah Yitzhak explains that the lishkat parhedrin was unique in that it was built to be the temporary home of the High Priest from the very beginning of its existence, obligating it in a mezuza. The other offices, even if they were occasionally used for one of the kohanim to stay overnight, were not built with that purpose in mind, so it was obvious in such cases that there was no obligation of mezuza. The conclusion of the Gemara is that the difference between the Tanna Kamma and Rabbi Yehuda is based on a disagreement about dirah ba'al korhah – a house in which you live against your will. The Tanna Kamma believes that such a house is still obligated in mezuza, while Rabbi Yehuda rules that such dwelling place is not obligated in mezuza. Thus, the Kohen Gadol who lives in the lishkat parhedrin because of the mitzva, and not by his own free will, would not be obligated in mezuza according to Rabbi Yehuda – nor would other kohanim who live in the Temple offices. It is only to keep people from saying that the High Priest is kept in prison that a gezeira was made to put a mezuza on the door.
Yoma 9a-b: And For This They Were Destroyed
20/04/2021 - 8th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara on our daf discusses the destruction of two Temples, as well as the Mishkan that stood in Shiloh for a period of time after the Jewish people entered the Land of Israel. Aside from the wars that brought about the physical destruction of the house of God in each of these cases, the Gemara quotes a well-known tosefta that explains the underlying reasons for their destruction. According to the tosefta, the First Temple was destroyed because of the three cardinal sins of idol worship, forbidden sexual relations, and bloodshed that existed during that period. The Second Temple, however, was destroyed during a period when the people were involved in Torah study and fulfillment of the commandments. In that case, the tosefta explains, the underlying cause for its destruction was the sin'at hinam – wanton hatred – that existed between the people. The tosefta concludes that we can derive from this that sin'at hinam is considered to be as severe as the three cardinal sins of idol worship, forbidden sexual relations, and bloodshed. With regard to the Mishkan in Shiloh, R Yohanan ben Torta explains that there were two problems - gilui arayot and bizyon kodashim – forbidden sexual relations and degradation of consecrated items. In this case the problems were not general societal ones, rather they were focused on the behavior of Hofni and Pinhas, the sons of Eli the High Priest at that time (see Shmuel 12-26). These kohanim clearly did not see the korbanot as being a lofty religious ideal, rather they saw them as an opportunity to eat the meat of the sacrifices, as indicated in I Shmuel 15-16. With regard to sexual impropriety, a simple reading of I Shmuel 22 seems to indicate that they "lay with the women" who came to bring sacrifices. Nevertheless Rabbi Shmuel bar Nahmani quotes Rabbi Yohanan as rejecting the simple reading, arguing that their sin was in holding off the sacrifices of women who had given birth until the next day, forcing them to stay overnight in Shiloh. Although halakha permits a women to live with her husband following childbirth even if she has not yet brought her sacrifice, Rabbenu Elyakim explains that being forced to stay over in Shiloh away from her husband was considered the moral equivalent of sexual impropriety. According to the Me'iri during Temple times the tradition was that wives did not sleep with their husbands until after the sacrifice was brought. Thus, sacrificing the korban the next day kept these women from returning to their husbands. The Ria"f explains that being forced to stay overnight in Shiloh is the intent of the passage that describes Hofni and Pinhas as sleeping with the women, that is to say, in Shiloh, together with them.
Yoma 8a-b: The Chamber of Parhedrin
19/04/2021 - 7th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
According to the Mishna (2a), a week prior to Yom Kippur the Kohen Gadol was isolated in an office in the Temple - the lishkat parhedrin - where he received training for the Yom Kippur service.
It was taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yehuda said: And was it called the Chamber of Parhedrin, the chamber for the annual royal appointees? Wasn't it called the Chamber of Balvatei, the chamber for ministers and council heads? Rather, initially, during the era of Shimon HaTzaddik and his colleagues, who were rewarded with long lives due to their righteousness, they would call it the Chamber of Balvatei, a term connoting significance, since it was a place designated for the High Priest. However, because people were giving money in order to be appointed to the High Priesthood, the position was filled by unworthy individuals. Due to their wickedness, they did not survive the year, and they were replaced every twelve months like the parhedrin who are replaced every twelve months. Therefore the chamber was called disparagingly the Chamber of Parhedrin. Since the High Priest was replaced every year, the new appointee would renovate the chamber to reflect his own more elaborate tastes.
The term parhedrin referred to a Roman official who was appointed to a position for a single year term. This was commonplace whether the individual was elected by the Senate or if he acquired the position by paying off the right people. Among the officials appointed by this method were those who were responsible for controlling prices on a variety of goods and services. It was not uncommon for people in this position to try to acquire significant wealth by collecting exorbitant taxes during their short terms, well beyond the amount prescribed by Roman law. The baraita refers to a period during the Second Temple when the Kohen Gadol was appointed based on the amount paid to the person in charge; during that period a different person was appointed every year, leading to the comparison with the Roman official. According to Rashi, the need to appoint a new Kohen Gadol every year stemmed from the fact that such people, who aspired to a position for which they were not worthy, invariably died during the course of the year. The Rid explains that it was simply like the case of the Roman officials - the appointments were paid for only for a single year. Some commentaries argue that it was not the Kohen Gadol who was replaced every year, but rather it was the office itself. Since the occupants of the position of Kohen Gadol were more interested in their honor than in the spiritual importance of the position, each of them tore down the office and rebuilt it to show off their wealth and position of authority.
Yoma 7a-b: Bringing Sacrifices When the Community is Impure
18/04/2021 - 6th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Generally speaking someone who is tameh - has become ritually defiled by contact -cannot participate in the Temple service in any way. There is, however, an exception: the case of tumah hutrah be-tzibur - if the majority of the Jewish people are tameh, then the sacrificial service can take place, performed by kohanim who themselves are tameh. Most of our daf  is devoted to an examination of the disagreement between Rav Nahman and Rav Sheshet with regard to the question of tumah hutrah be-tzibur - how to understand the rule permitting sacrifices to be brought when the majority of the community is tameh. Rav Nahman explains that tumah hutrah be-tzibur means that the rules of tumah simply do not apply under these unusual circumstances. According to Rav Sheshet, however, the rule is really that tumah dehuyah be-tzibur - not that the Torah totally permits it, rather that the need to bring sacrifices in this case "pushes aside" the existing prohibition about tumah, even as the prohibition remains. To explain this concept, it is important to note that the question of hutrah (permitted) vs. dehuyah (pushed aside) is not unique to questions about ritual purity in the Temple and its sacrifices. We find a similar discussion with regard to the rules of Shabbat, when a number of different circumstances will permit melakhot - activities on Shabbat - that are, ordinarily, forbidden. Regarding Shabbat we find that approaches differ based on the reason that the activity needs to be done. When communal sacrifices are brought in the Temple on Shabbat it is clear that Shabbat is hutrah. Such activities are totally permitted. On the other hand, potential life-and-death situations, when we certainly will allow activities to be done on Shabbat to save the individual, are likely considered dehuyah. It is thus important to limit activities to those melakhot that are essential, and anything that can be done without transgressing forbidden activities on Shabbat should be done in that way (see Shulhan Arukh Orah Hayyim 328 for a discussion of these issues).