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 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).
Yoma 6a-b: The Sequestering of the High Priest
17/04/2021 - 5th 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
As we learned in the Mishna (2a) the High Priest is kept in one of the Temple offices for the week prior to Yom Kippur. Aside from training for the service that he is to perform on the Day of Atonement, this also keeps him away from his house, where there is a possibility that he may become ritually defiled by contact with others.
With regard to the sequestering of the High Priest, the Gemara asks: And before you remove him from the potential of impurity of his house, remove him from the potential of the more severe impurity imparted by a corpse. The Sages should have instituted an ordinance prohibiting visitors to the High Priest lest one die while in his chamber and render him impure.
The Gemara offers a variety of explanations why we do not totally limit his contact with others. Rashi's explanation of the Gemara's question is that someone may enter his office in the Temple and die, so the suggestion is that contact with anyone should be limited. Some commentaries argue that Rashi's explanation is difficult, both because the Talmud does not usually concern itself with the unlikely possibility that someone will die, and also because we know that the author of our Mishna specifically excluded that possibility, when he rejects Rabbi Yehuda's opinion that we need to secure an additional wife for the Kohen Gadol lest his first wife pass away. In explaining Rashi, the Gevurot Ari argues that we must distinguish between a situation where the question is whether a specific individual may die, and one where there is a group of people and the question is whether one person from amongst the group will pass away. Since many people visit the Kohen Gadol in his office in the week prior to Yom Kippur, the Gemara is within its rights to suggest that perhaps one of them will die. There are those who suggest an alternative interpretation of the Gemara. Rabbenu Yehonatan argues that the Gemara is simply suggesting that we limit the High Priest's contact with others, in case one of them is tameh met and will spread the defilement to others. According to the R"i ha-Lavan we move the Kohen Gadol to the Mikdash because he is much less likely to come into contact with the defilement of a dead body there, whereas at home the likelihood is much greater.
Yoma 5a-b: When in Mourning at the Inauguration
16/04/2021 - 4th 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 week of preparations for consecrating the Mishkan in the desert (Vayikra 9) ends with the tragic story of the death of Aharon's sons, Nadav and Avihu (see Vayikra 10). Ordinarily, the death of a close relative gives someone the status of an onein - a high level of mourning - whose focus on caring for proper burial limits participation in normal daily activities, including many mitzvot. For kohanim specifically, an onein would not participate in the Temple service, nor eat from the sacrifices. In the case of the week of the milu'im (inauguration), the Torah records a disagreement between Moshe and Aharon's family about the level of participation they should have in the ceremonies following the death of two of Aharon's children. The Gemara on our daf examines the disagreement and its background. A baraita is quoted that points out Moshe's repeated use of the term tzivah - commanded - on this day, with regard to:
  • the special minha that was brought for on the occasion of the consecration of the Mishkan (see Vayikra 10:12-13).
  • the korban hatat that was part of the Rosh Hodesh service (the Mishkan was consecrated on Rosh Hodesh Nisan, see Vayikra 10:18).
  • the korban shelamim that was brought by the leader of each tribe (this is described in Bamidbar 7:16; the command to eat it appears in Vayikra 10:14-15).
According to the baraita, the difference of opinion between Moshe and Aharon stems from Moshe's initial command that the sacrifices be eaten by Aharon and his sons, even though they were in a situation of aninut. He explained that the consecration of the Mishkan was so important that God commanded them to continue their participation even though Nadav and Avihu had died. When Moshe discovered that the korban hatat of Rosh Hodesh had not been eaten, but had instead been burned (Vayikra 10:16), he demanded to know why the commandment had not been carried out. Aharon distinguished between the special minha that was brought because of the Tabernacle consecration (which had to be eaten) and the korban hatat of Rosh Hodesh that was not part of the special ceremony (which did not have to be eaten). Moshe admits that Aharon was correct, but insists that with regard to the other sacrifices there was a specific command of God that they must be eaten. The Rosh points out that this explanation does not fit into the simple order of the pesukim, which has the sacrifice on Rosh Hodesh as the last one discussed. He applies the well-known rule ein mukdam u'me'uhar ba-Torah - that the Torah was not written in chronological order - to explain the baraita's reasoning.
Yoma 4a-b: Preparing to Enter God's Presence
15/04/2021 - 3rd 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
As we learned previously, the Sages of the Talmud derived the need for a seven-day preparation for the Yom Kippur service from the Torah's description of the Tabernacle in the desert. An alternative source is suggested by Reish Lakish, who proposes that this rule is derived from the story of Moshe receiving the commandments on Mount Sinai. The Torah describes Moshe as being enveloped by a cloud for six days and entering God's presence on the seventh day (see Shemot 24:16). This teaches that someone who is about to enter mahaneh shekhinah - the "encampment of God" - needs a week of preparation to do so. The Gemara quotes a baraita that includes at least one tanna who supports Reish Lakish. Several opinions are presented about the six days that Moshe was in the cloud:
  • Rabbi Yosei HaGelili - These days were the first six of the forty days that Moshe was on the mountain, after he received the ten commandments.
  • Rabbi Akiva - These days began on Rosh Hodesh Sivan, when Moshe was still with the people of Israel. During this time the mountain (not Moshe) was surrounded by a cloud covering.
  • Rabbi Natan - He agrees that they were days of preparation, but only so that the food could be removed from Moshe's system, bringing him to the level of one of the heavenly angels.
  • Rabbi Matya ben Harash - He also agrees that they were days of preparation, whose purpose was to raise Moshe to a sense of awe and trembling prior to receiving the Torah. The source for this idea is Tehillim 2:11, "serve the Lord with awe, and rejoice with trembling."
Although Rashi and Tosafot on our daf interpret Rabbi Matya ben Harash's statement as referring specifically to the experience of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, others (see the Tosafot R"i ha-Lavan) apply it to Torah study in general, which is supposed to combine the elements of joy and celebration with trembling and trepidation. The Ritva points out that according to the Gemara in Berakhot it appears that this is a general principle - at every occasion of joy it is important to keep a sense of trepidation, as well.
Yoma 3a-b: Whose Property Is It?
14/04/2021 - 2nd 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
We learned in yesterday's daf that the Sages of the Talmud derived the need for a seven-day preparation for the Yom Kippur service from the Torah's description of the Tabernacle in the desert. In that case the High Priest Aharon and his sons were confined for a week during the ceremonies inaugurating the Mishkan so that they would practice the service that needed to be done afterwards. Specifically, the Gemara refers to Vayikra 8:33-34, where the Torah teaches that the week of preparation was a model for a situation where kapparah - atonement - was offered, which is understood to mean Yom Kippur. The Gemara on our daf discusses how we know that the passages in Vayikra that talk about kapparah refer to preparation for Yom Kippur; perhaps they are teaching that other holidays - like Rosh HaShana, for example - need such preparation. The Gemara points to the uniqueness of Yom Kippur as a holiday on which the Kohen Gadol brings his own sacrifice, similar to the personal sacrifice brought by Aharon HaKohen at the consecration of the Mishkan. This is significantly different than other holidays - including Rosh HaShana - where the sacrifices brought were communal ones. The conclusion of the Gemara is clear that, with regard to Yom Kippur, some sacrifices were the personal property of the High Priest. It points out, though, that there are some things that were used in the Temple whose ownership is less clear.
As it was taught in a baraita that when the Torah states: Take you [kah lekha], it means from your own property, and when it states: Make you [a'se lekha], it means from your own property; however, when the Torah states: And they will bring to you, it means from community property. This is the statement of Rabbi Yoshiya. Rabbi Yonatan says that both when the Torah states: Take you, and when the Torah states: And they will bring to you, it means from community property. And for what purpose, then, does the verse state: Take you, which seems to mean from your own property? It should be understood, as it were, that God said to Moses: I desire that it come from your property more than I desire it from theirs. Therefore, the taking was attributed to Moses even though it was actually from community property.
The phrase kah lekha (take for you) is from the command to make the incense (see Shemot 30:34) and the phrase a'se lekha (make for you) appears in the command to make silver trumpets (image of replica trumpets to the right; see Bamidbar 10:2). This rather enigmatic statement is explained by the Maharsha as follows: Since the entire world belongs to God, there is nothing that can be "given" to him, and it is impossible to discuss a physical thing that He "wants" from this world. Therefore, His command to offer something to Him means that He is honoring Moshe by accepting something from him, and He would prefer to honor Moshe than the Jewish people.
Yoma 2a-b: Of Priests and Priestly Families
13/04/2021 - 1st 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
Massekhet Yoma is a chronological presentation of the various activities that take place in preparation for the Temple service on Yom Kippur, beginning with those things that need to be done prior to the holiday, and culminating with the day itself. The first Mishna in the massekhet teaches how the Kohen Gadol is taken aside for an entire week of preparation and purification in anticipation of Yom Kippur. Since the entire complicated service will be done by him, reaching a climax with his entering the Holy of Holies - it was clear that serious preparation was essential. The Sages of the Talmud learned this from the Torah's description of the Tabernacle in the desert, where Aaron and his sons were confined for a week during the ceremonies inaugurating the Mishkan to practice the service that needed to be done afterwards. This preparation became even more important during the Second Temple period. Although the ideal Kohen Gadol should have been a scholar and righteous person, for a variety of reasons the person who filled the position during that period often did not live up to that expectation. This led the Sages to institute rules that would ensure that the High Priest would be knowledgeable in the service that he was to perform, and that he would do it correctly. Aside from the day of Yom Kippur, all of the kohanim have the opportunity, and, in fact, were required, to take a turn in the Temple service. Our Gemara asks whether every beit av - family of priests - should be required to spend a week preparing for their turn working in the Beit ha-Mikdash, a suggestion ultimately rejected by the Gemara. The idea of patrilineal priestly families - of a beit av - stems from a very early division of the kohanim - as early as the time of King David (see I Divrei haYamim 24:1-18) - into 24 mishmarot (watches). The same number existed during the Second Temple, as well, although it was a new division of labor, since only four priestly families returned to serve in the Second Temple. Each of the 24 "watches" was divided into six families (beit av). Every "watch" would go up to Jerusalem to work for one week at a time, so that in the course of a year each "watch" would work approximately two weeks. During the festivals of Pesah, Shavu'ot and Sukkot all the kohanim would come to work together. During the week that a given mishmar was in the Temple, each beit av would work on a specific day, and only if there was an inordinate amount of work would a second family join them. Thus, generally speaking, every family of kohanim would work on two set days during the year.
Shekalim 22a-b: In This Day And Age
12/04/2021 - 30th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The final Mishna in Massekhet Shekalim returns to the rules of the shekalim, and specifically to their status in contemporary times when the Mikdash is no longer standing. Incidentally it also touches on some other halakhot that are dependant on the holiness of the Land of Israel and how they are to be kept in the absence of the Temple. Since the purpose of the shekalim is to pay for communal sacrifices, there really is no reason to continue contributing them as long as the Temple is in a state of destruction. The Mishna rules that shekalim and bikkurim are no longer brought. Nevertheless, if someone sets them aside for those purposes, they become kodesh (consecrated). Since they cannot be used for their designated purpose, the bikkurim must be left to rot and the shekalim should be destroyed. Rabbi Shimon rules that bikkurim cannot be made in our day and age, since they cannot possibly be brought to the Mikdash as is required by the Torah (see Devarim 26:2). The Mishna teaches about a number of other halakhot that apply whether or not the Temple is standing. Ma'aser dagan and ma'aser behema (tithes of grains and animals) as well as the rules of bekhor (first born) apply today even without the Mikdash. Ma'aser dagan are the tithes that are separated from grains and given to the kohen and the levi. Ma'aser behema is the obligation to set aside one of every ten newly born animals (see Vayikra 27:32). Bekhor is the rule obligating that the first-born animal be given to the kohen (see Shemot 13:1-13 and Bamidbar 18:15-18). While the obligation of bekhor stems from the fact that there is inherent holiness to the firstborn animal, ma'aser behema derives from its connection and similarity to ma'aser dagan. The Bartenura explains that the rules of ma'aser dagan still apply because the holiness attained by the Land of Israel during the second Temple period remains, even when the Temple is no longer standing.
Shekalim 21a-b: Are Found Utensils Presumed To Be Pure?
11/04/2021 - 29th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The eighth and final perek of Massekhet Shekalim follows the mishnayot of the previous perek, which discussed money that was found in the Temple and in Jerusalem, and whether that money is to be considered consecrated to the Mikdash or not. These mishnayot deal with other things that are found in Jerusalem; in this case the question is whether they are to be considered ritually pure or defiled. One case, for example, is utensils that are found in the city. According to Rabbi Meir, if they are found in a place that leads to a mikveh, where such utensils are taken to purify them, we must assume that they are tameh, but if they are found on the path leading away from the mikveh, we can assume that they were already dipped and are considered ritually pure. Archaeological excavations have found many mikva'ot like the ones described here, in which there are separate staircases leading into the mikveh and leading away from it, with a clear separation between them. They were set up this way in order to ensure that the people going in to the mikveh who are tameh, should not touch the ones who were leaving the mikveh, already tahor.
However, Rabbi Yose says: They are all ritually pure, except for the basket, and the shovel, and the meritza, which are specifically used for graves, to gather up the bones of the dead. These tools must be presumed to be ritually impure, but in general, vessels are presumed to be pure.
During the Second Temple period people were buried in temporary graves and after their flesh decomposed their bones were moved to permanent family burial caves. The basket was a special one that was used to collect the bones. The shovel had a wide head and a long handle, held in both hands; when associated with a basket, as it is here, it was used for digging as well as the collection of bones for burial. The meritza in this context was a tool similar to a pickax, also called a dolabra, with which one could extract large stones and then push them into place to close a burial cave. The Rambam rules like Rabbi Yose, that utensils in Jerusalem are not automatically assumed to be tameh, since the Rabbinic ordinance that such utensils are tameh that was applied in other cities (see the Mishna in Taharot 4:5) was not applied in Jerusalem.
Shekalim 20a-b: Handling Consecrated Animals
10/04/2021 - 28th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The last Mishna in our perek opens with a discussion of what to do if an animal is found in the environs of Jerusalem. We assume that it must be a korban; depending on its gender, it will either be brought as an ola or as a shelamim. The Mishna also describes how at first the person who found the animal was responsible to pay for the minhat nesakhim that went with it (flour and oil, as well as a wine libation). When people realized that bringing the lost animal to the Temple would be an expensive proposition for them, they would ignore such animals, so a court decision was made putting the responsibility for the minhat nesakhim on the community. Rabbi Shimon lists this as one of the seven takanot (remedy, ordinance) that the beit din made in connection with the Temple service.
And the sixth ordinance concerned the red heifer: that deriving benefit from its ashes is not considered misusing consecrated property.
The para aduma was used during Temple times to purify people who had become ritually defiled through contact with a dead body. According to the Torah (Bamidbar 19:1-22), the para aduma is slaughtered and burned; its ashes are mixed with well-water (mayim hayyim) and that mixture is sprinkled on the person who is tameh. After a week has passed, the person goes to the mikveh and becomes tahor (ritually pure) once again. For all that preparation of the para aduma is incumbent on the kohanim and is part of the Temple service, the para aduma is not considered a korban, as it is not slaughtered in the precincts of the Mikdash, but on Har ha-Zeitim, the Mount of Olives. As such, the holiness that it has is kodshei bedek ha-bayit, as something that belongs to the Temple treasury, rather than having inherent holiness. According to the Gemara, me'ila (misusing consecrated property) can only take place if someone makes use of the para aduma itself. Me'ila cannot be done on the ashes of the para aduma. When the courts saw that the kohanim were using the ashes for medicinal purposes, they ruled that me'ila should apply to the ashes, as well. When it became clear that this new rule discouraged kohanim from participating in the ceremony where the para aduma water was used for its intended purpose, because they were afraid that they might accidentally derive benefit from it, the beit din returned the law to its original status, ruling that no me'ila applies to the ashes.
Shekalim 19a-b: Finding Lost Money in Jerusalem
09/04/2021 - 27th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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On the last daf we learned that great care was taken to make sure that no mistakes were made, and that all of the shofarot where money was collected were clearly marked. Nevertheless, there were occasions that money was found on the floor between the shofarot. What was to be done with that money? The Mishna on our daf, which opens the seventh perek of Massekhet Shekalim, rules in a straightforward manner that we assume that the money belongs in the shofar that is closest to where it was found. There are other cases, however, that are not so simple.
Money found before animal merchants in Jerusalem is always presumed to be second-tithe money. The presumption is based on the fact that in Jerusalem, most of the animals are bought with second-tithe money and sacrificed as peace-offerings. And money found on the Temple Mount is presumed to be non-sacred money. And with regard to money found in the rest of Jerusalem, the following distinction applies: If it was found during the rest of the days of the year, it is presumed to be non-sacred money, but if it was found during the time of a pilgrim Festival, it is all presumed to be second-tithe money, because most of the money found in Jerusalem at the time of a Festival is second-tithe money.
Ma'aser sheni is the additional tithe that is separated by the farmer after he has given teruma to the kohen and the first tithe to the levi. During the first, second, fourth and fifth years of the shemitta cycle an additional tenth of the produce is set aside by the farmer, who takes it to Jerusalem to eat (during years three and six the tithe is given to the poor). Recognizing that it might be difficult to bring a large amount of crops to Jerusalem, the Torah itself allows the farmer to redeem his crops and take the money to Jerusalem, where he could buy any food products there (see Devarim 14:26). Although there was no specific obligation to bring the food to Jerusalem during the holiday, it is clear that people did not make special trips to the city just to eat their ma'aser sheni, rather they took the money with them when they came for the holidays. Since there were a large number of people who came for a relatively short period of time, virtually all of the money that was spent on food was ma'aser sheni money, and specifically near the animal merchants the likelihood was that money found there was ma'aser sheni. The reason we are not concerned the rest of the year that the money is ma'aser sheni is explained by the Rambam (Hilkhot Ma’aser Sheni 6:9-10) – that the streets of Jerusalem were swept every day, so we can assume that any money found today was also lost today.
Shekalim 18a-b: Proper Spending of Temple Donations
08/04/2021 - 26th of Nisan, 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
Money was collected for use in the Beit ha-Mikdash in different ways. The Mishna on our daf describes 13 collection boxes that were called shofarot, because they were shaped like a shofar 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 Mishna continues with a reference to one of the stories in the Tanakh where we hear about the collection of shekalim (II Melakhim12) in which King Yoash partnered with the High Priest Jehoiada in collecting money from the people and refurbishing the Temple.
This midrash was taught by Jehoiada the High Priest: There is an apparent contradiction between two verses. With regard to the guilt-offering, the verse states: "It is a guilt-offering; he is certainly guilty before the Lord" (Vayikra 5:19). This verse indicates that the guilt-offering goes to God, not the priests. However, a different verse states: "As is the sin-offering, so is the guilt-offering; there is one law for them; the priest who makes atonement with it, he shall have it" (Leviticus 7:7). This verse indicates that the offering is designated for the priests alone. How can these two verses be reconciled? The Mishna explains that this is the principle: Any funds that come due to a sin-offering or due to a guilt-offering, i.e., leftover coins designated for one of these offerings, they should be used for the purchase of animals for a voluntary burnt-offering, as the meat will be offered on the altar to God, and the hides will go to the priests. In this manner the two verses are found to be fulfilled, as it is both a guilt-offering to God as well as guilt-offering to the priest. And this halakha also explains the verse that says: "The guilt-offering money and the sin-offering money was not brought into the House of the Lord; it was for the priests" (II Kings 12:17). This verse is understood to refer to the hides given to the priests.
Clearly the money must be spent on the sacrifices for which it was set aside. What this pasuk teaches is that extra money is given to the kohanim to purchase olot, rather than being given to the Temple treasury for use in refurbishing the Mikdash. The question of how to make sure that money donated to the Temple was properly spent comes up a number of times in the Talmud. In Ketubot (106b), Rav Huna asks whether the keli sharet – the utensils used for the Temple service - were considered connected to the altar, and could be purchased from money set aside for bedek ha-bayit (money set aside for the Temple itself), or were they considered connected to the sacrifice and needed to be purchased from the terumat ha-lishka money (money set aside for communal sacrifices). Rav answers that the utensils are made from terumat ha-lishka money. Rav Huna then points to a pasuk that clearly describes leftover money collected by King Yoash and the High Priest Jehoiada being used for the keli sharet (see II Divrei ha-Yamim 24:14). Rav argues that that passage must be talking about a case where more money was collected than necessary, so the remaining money could be used for other purposes in the Temple, pointing out that the story, as related in Sefer Melakhim (II Melakhim 12:14-15) clearly says that the money collected for bedek ha-bayit was not used for making these utensils.
Shekalim 17a-b: Daily Miracles
07/04/2021 - 25th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Mishna on our daf describes the thirteen tables that were in the Temple. Eight of them, made of marble, were used, in effect, to butcher the animals in preparation for their sacrifice on the mizbe'ah. There were also tables made of gold for the lehem ha-panim, the shewbread. The Gemara comments that silver tables were not used for the lehem ha-panim because the heat of the tables might cause the bread – which was left on the shulhan (table) for an entire week – to become moldy. Even though the freshness of the bread was one of the daily miracles of the Temple, the Gemara argues that we do not rely on miracles. Issues having to do with the presence of the meat and bread in the Temple are among the ten daily miracles that are recorded by the Mishna in Massekhet Avot (2:5). They include:
  • No women 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, nor with the shtei ha-lehem, 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, and that the "miracle" was not in an unnatural event, rather in 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 so that the meat never spoiled nor attracted flies, the communal sacrifices never were 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. Finally, thanks to the high level of friendliness and concern for one another, the people looked out for each other and made sure that there was always room for everyone.
Shekalim 16a-b: The Anointing Oil
06/04/2021 - 24th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Mishna (15b) mentioned the tradition that had been handed down that the aron had been hidden away towards the end of the first Temple period. 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 container of manna, Aharon the high Priest's staff and the flask of the shemen ha-mish'ha, the 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 wand-like, 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 from 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 simply an adam (man) and therefore he does not fall into the category of the prohibition. According to the Gemara in Horayot (12a), kings were anointed by putting the oil around their head like a crown. The kohanim had the oil put on them ke-min key, or, as the Gemara explains, ke-min kaf yevani – like a Greek chi – what we would call the shape of the letter "X". Since there is no Hebrew letter that is similar in shape to an "X," many suggestions were made by the commentaries over the years about its appearance, given that Greek was no longer commonly used and people did not know what the letter looked like. According to the shape of the letter as we know it, it appears that the oil would be placed on the forehead of the priest, beginning between his eyebrows and spread diagonally towards his head, making the shape of an "X".
Shekalim 15a-b: The Hidden Ark
05/04/2021 - 23th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The first Mishna of the sixth perek appears on our daf, and it teaches about 13 collection boxes - referred to as shofarot because of their shape - that were in the Temple, a number of which were for the deposit of shekalim. The Mishna continues with a description of other times there were 13 things in the, including shulhanot (tables) and hishtahavayot (times that the people bowed down). The Mishna records another tradition kept by Rabban Gamliel's family, who bowed down fourteen times. They bowed down an extra time near the storage house for wood because of the tradition that the aron - the Ark of the Covenant - was hidden there. During the first Temple period, there was a rock in the kodesh kodashim, called the even ha-shetiya (foundation stone), upon which rested the aron, together with a container of manna (see Shemot 16:33-34) and Aharon ha-Kohen's staff (see Bamidbar 17:16-24). During the Second Temple the Mikdash operated without an ark. When the kohen gadol (high priest) entered the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, the service was performed in the place of the ark, even though there was none there. The ark was hidden by King Yoshiyahu towards the end of the first Temple period. During his reign, a copy of Sefer Devarim was discovered that was interpreted by Hulda ha-nevi'ah as warning of the destruction of the kingdom (see II Melakhim 22-23). According to the Radak, the discovered scroll was open to the passage (Devarim 28:36) that foretold of the exile, and the king, fearing that if the ark was taken into exile it would never return, chose to hide it on the grounds of the Mikdash (see II Divrei ha-Yamim 35:3).
The mishna relates that there was an incident involving a certain priest who was going about his duties and saw a certain flagstone that was different from the others. He noticed that one of the stones was slightly raised above the others, indicating that it had been removed and returned to its place. The priest understood that this was the opening to an underground tunnel where the Ark was concealed. He came and said to his fellow that he had noticed this deviation in the floor. He did not manage to conclude relating the incident before his soul left him, i.e., he died. Following this event, they knew with certainty that the Ark was sequestered there and that God had prevented that priest from revealing its location.
It should be noted that there is an opinion that the aron was also taken into exile to Babylon, based on II Divrei haYamim 36:10, which describes that the keli hemdat bet ha-Shem (goodly vessel of the house of Hashem) was taken there.
Shekalim 14a-b: The Smoke Raiser
04/04/2021 - 22th of Nisan, 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 at the beginning of the fifth perek(13a) lists the different families of kohanim who were responsible for specific tasks in the Temple. Our Gemara quotes baraitot that are most critical of two of the families - Bet Garmu, who were responsible for baking the lehem ha-panim (shewbread) and Bet Avtinas, who were responsible for the ketoret. The criticism 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 others 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. The Sages eventually had to return them to their original positions - with a significant raise in their salaries. In their defense, the baraita records the explanation for their behavior - they feared that with the ultimate destruction of the Temple this knowledge would be put to mundane use if too many people knew about it.
Rabbi Akiva said: Shimon ben Loga told me: Once I and a certain child from the house of Avtinas were collecting herbs, and I saw him crying, and later  II saw him laughing. said to him: My son, why did you cry? He said to me: I cried for the glory of my father's house, which has been diminished after the destruction of the Temple. I subsequently asked him: And why did you laugh? He said to me: I laughed with joy over the glory prepared for the righteous in the future, when my family will have its role restored to them in the rebuilt Temple. Shimon ben Loga added that he asked that child further: And what did you see that brought these things to mind? He replied: I saw the smoke raiser before me, among the herbs we were collecting. I said to him: My son, show it to me, and I will keep its identity secret so that no one will be able to use it for idolatry. He said to me: Rabbi, I have a tradition from my forefathers not to show it to a soul.
The plant seen by the descendant of Bet Avtinas is referred to as ma'ale 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 ve
Shekalim 13a-b: The Donkey Who Was Strict About Tithes
03/04/2021 - 21th of Nisan, 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 daf  9 we were introduced to Rabbi Pinehas ben Yair who taught us how to climb the rungs of holiness and saintliness. Our Gemara relates another famous story that is told - not so much about Pinehas ben Yair, but about his donkey. Several times in the Gemara the expression is used "if the earlier Sages were angels, we are people. And if they were people, we are donkeys…and not even as great as the donkey that belonged to Pinehas ben Yair."
The Gemara explains the reference to this particular donkey. The donkey of Rabbi Pinehas ben Yair was stolen by robbers one night. It was kept hidden by them for three days, and yet it did not eat anything. After three days, they reconsidered and decided to return it. They said: Let’s get it out of here, so that it shouldn’t die in our possession and leave a stench in our cave. When they set it free it went and stood by its master’s gate and began braying. Rabbi Pinehas said to the members of his household: Open up for that poor creature, which has gone three days without eating anything. They opened the gate for it, and it entered Rabbi Pinehas’ courtyard. He told them: Give it something to eat. They placed barley before it, but it would not eat. They said to him: Rabbi, it will not eat. He said to them: Has the barley been tithed so that it is fit to eat? They replied: Yes. He then asked them: And have you separated their doubtfully tithed produce? Did you tithe the grain about which there is doubt as to whether it has been tithed properly? They replied: Didn’t you teach us the following, Rabbi: One who purchases grain for feeding an animal, or flour for processing animal hides, or oil for lighting a lamp, is exempt from separating doubtfully tithed produce? There is no need to separate tithes from doubtfully tithed produce to feed a donkey. He said to them: What can we do for that poor creature, which is very strict with itself and will not eat even from doubtfully tithed produce, despite this exemption? And they therefore separated tithes from the doubtfully tithed produce, and the donkey finally ate the barley grains.
Rabbi Pinehas ben Yair was one of the Tanna'im who was known as one of the righteous people of his generation and as a miracle worker. He was related by marriage to Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai (according to some texts he was his father-in-law, according to others, his son-in-law). During his lifetime he was already spoken about as a legend, and the Gemara is replete with miraculous stories about him to the extent that the Sages say, "How much greater was this man than Moshe Rabbenu!" Nevertheless, only a small number of his teachings are recorded in the Gemara.
Shekalim 12a-b: Using Donations to the Temple
02/04/2021 - 20th of Nisan, 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 discusses a case where someone announces that he is donating all of his possessions to the Mikdash. In such a case, the property is usually given to the Temple treasurer for general upkeep - bedek ha-bayit. But what if some of his possessions can be brought as sacrifices? If some of the possessions are animals that can be brought as sacrifices, there is general agreement that such an animal should be sacrificed, as that was most probably the intent of the donor. Furthermore, the korban (sacrifice) should be brought in such a way that it is entirely donated to the Temple, with no part of it going to the owner. Therefore, all agree that the animals that can be brought as olot - burnt offerings - should be sacrificed. There is a difference of opinion, however, with regard to those animals that can be brought as shelamim - korbanot that are divided between the altar, the kohen and the owner. According to Rabbi Eliezer, such an animal should be sold to someone who will use it as a shelamim, and the proceeds should be given to the Temple treasurer together with all the rest of the possessions. Rabbi Yehoshua agrees that such animals should be sold to someone who will sacrifice them as a shelamim, but, he says, the proceeds of the sale must be used to purchase olot. If some of the possessions are not sacrificial animals, but they can be brought on the altar - for example, wine, oil, or fowl - Rabbi Eliezer rules that they should be sold to someone who will use them on the mizbe'ah for its appropriate purpose, and the proceeds should be used to purchase olot that will be burned on the altar. In this case the Mishna does not record any argument. The Rambam records this in his Mishneh Torah (Hilkhot Erkhin 5:8-9) and rules like Rabbi Eliezer in the first case, so that the money received from the sale of the animals that cannot be brought as olot will be given to the Temple treasurer for general use. This creates an odd situation that the Rambam feels obligated to explain. In the first case in the Mishna, animals that could be brought as shelamim are sold and the proceeds are used for bedek ha-bayit. In the second case, other items brought on the mizbe'ah are sold, but the proceeds from that sale are used to buy sacrifices! He explains (based on the passage in Vayikra 27:11-12) that only animals can be evaluated for the purpose of redemption. As such, the animals in the first case can truly be redeemed, and their value can be used for the relatively mundane purposes of bedek ha-bayit. The wine, oil, etc. in the second case cannot be redeemed, so the money retains the original holiness and must be used for actual sacrifices.
Shekalim 11a-b: Leftover Animals
01/04/2021 - 19th of Nisan, 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 were the animals in the Temple purchased? According to Rashi, the general practice in the Temple was to set aside six animals that had been checked and found to be appropriate for sacrifice that would serve the needs of the upcoming communal sacrifices. This way, there was always a reserve of animals available for the Temple’s needs. Tosafot ha-Rosh quotes an opinion which says that it all depended on availability. The kohanim in the Temple tried to always have a reserve of animals, and if a particularly good buying opportunity came up, they would buy a large number of animals. According to both of these approaches, we can understand the question of the Gemara - what was to be done with leftover korbanot (sacrifices)? With the new year for sacrifices beginning on the first day of Nisan, when the end of Adar arrived there would often be a pool of animals that had been set aside for sacrifices, but could no longer be used, since the new year's sacrifices had to come from the new year's donations. Our Gemara quotes a difference of opinion as to what happened to these animals. Shmuel rules that we redeem them - we exchange them for money. Then, the animals would no longer have any holiness attached to them, and the money could be used for the various needs of the Temple, as we will explain. Rabbi Yohanan says that we cannot remove the holiness of the sacrificial animals so easily; we can only redeem them after they have become blemished in some way so that they can no longer be brought as korbanot. Rashi explains Shmuel's position as limiting the possible use of the animals even after they are redeemed. He explains that, immediately after being redeemed, they are repurchased for use in the Temple. The source for this ruling is, apparently, that this is the position of the Gemara with regard to leftover ketoret - incense used in the Temple service. It was redeemed, but immediately repurchased for use in the Temple. The Torat Hayyim - Rabbi Avraham Hayyim Shor - points out that the Rambam (Hilkhot Shekalim 4:11 ) accepts the position that these animals can be redeemed, and makes no mention of the need for repurchase. He argues that unlike the ketoret, which could not be left in the hands of someone unconnected with the Temple service, since its use outside of the Temple was forbidden, these animals could be used by anyone once they had been redeemed and were no longer holy.
Shekalim 10a-b: Paying People to Teach Torah
31/03/2021 - 18th of Nisan, 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 fourth perek of Massekhet Shekalim, which begins on our daf opens with the question of how the shekalim are spent. We have already noted that the communal sacrifices were purchased with this money, but there were other needs in the Temple and in Jerusalem that were paid for with these donations. For example, our Gemara teaches that the sages who taught the rules of the Temple service to the kohanim were paid with this money. Tosafot in Massekhet Ketubot (105b) points out that paying people who teach Torah is not a simple thing, and, in theory, should be forbidden entirely. The only payment that a teacher can receive is sekhar batala - the value for his time that he could have spent on more lucrative endeavors. Another arrangement that can be made is a stipend to be paid to a scholar who agrees that he will not be involved in any business activities whatsoever so that they will always be available for the needs of the community. According to Rabbi Vidal Crescas, this is the method that is popularly used to pay community Rabbis to this day. The Rambam in Hilkhot Talmud Torah 3:9-10 takes a strong stand on this issue, forbidding scholars from receiving payment in exchange for Torah study, although the Kesef Mishneh (ibid) rules even the Rambam would agree that it would be permissible if the scholar serviced the needs of the community. It should be noted that in previous times people literally lived hand-to-mouth and there was very little leisure time, making it almost impossible to divide time between learning Torah and working. In our day-and-age, arranging one's work environment so that it is possible support oneself and study Torah is a strong possibility. One of the examples of what was taught is the rules of kemitza. Kemitza involved taking an exact amount of the flour for the meal offering in one's hand, and it was very difficult to ensure that the exact amount was taken. A similar lesson that needed to be taught was the rule regarding melika, the unique manner in which the sacrificed fowl was slaughtered. This was known as one of the most difficult of the Temple services, and Tosafot argues that this, too, needed to be taught to the kohanim by experts. Since every group of kohanim that came to the Temple to work needed to learn and to review these laws, there was constant work for those scholars who knew how to teach this material.
Shekalim 9a-b: One Thing Leads to Another
30/03/2021 - 17th of Nisan, 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 quotes a well-known statement in the name of Rabbi Pinehas ben Yair that appears a number of times in the Talmud. There are different versions of this text, one of which appears below:
And so Rabbi Pinehas ben Yair would say: Alacrity in the proper performance of the mitzvot leads to cleanliness of the soul, so that one will not sin. Cleanliness of the soul and refraining from all sin leads to purity, so that one purifies his soul from his previous sins. Purity leads to holiness. Holiness leads to humility, as one recognizes his lowliness. Humility leads to fear of sin, because when one recognizes his inferiority, he becomes more fearful of sin and is careful to avoid temptation. Fear of sin leads to piety, as one begins to impose upon himself stringencies beyond the letter of the law. Piety leads to the holy spirit, because when one acts in a manner that goes beyond the letter of the law, Heaven acts with him in a way that is not natural to man, and informs him of the secrets of the Torah through divine inspiration. The holy spirit leads to the resurrection of the dead, because the spirit of holiness and purity that descend upon him enter the bones of the deceased and resurrect them. The resurrection of the dead that will precede the arrival of the Messiah leads to the coming of the Prophet Elijah, of blessed memory, who will herald the upcoming redemption.
Rabbi Moshe Hayyim Luzzato based his master-work, the Messilat Yesharim, on this baraita. The Messilat Yesharim is, in effect, a book-long analysis of the ideas set forth here. Let us examine a small selection of them. "Cleanliness" (nekiyut) is understood as avoidance of sin (Rashi) or evil thoughts (Re'ah). Rabbi Ya'akov Emden suggests that it also refers to physical cleanliness of the body, clothing, etc. which also plays a role in elevating a person to a higher spiritual realm. "Purity" (tahara) leads to "holiness" (kedusha) because a person who has removed himself from the drives and desires of this world will be able to turn his attention to the love of God and of man beyond what he is obligated to do based on the letter of the law. "Resurrection of the dead" (tehiyat ha-metim) is explained by the Nemukei Yosef as meaning that the person on this level will be able to successfully pray on behalf of someone like the stories of the prophets and sages who successfully revived people who appeared to be dead. The Maharashdam suggests that, based on the idea that evil people are considered as if they were dead, someone who influences such a person to repent is considered to have brought him back to life.
Shekalim 8a-b: The Collection Baskets
29/03/2021 - 16th of Nisan, 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 third perek of Massekhet Shekalim opens with a discussion of the collection and use of the shekalim in the Temple. When the shekalim were collected, they were brought to the Temple where they were stored so that they could be used to purchase communal sacrifices as necessary. As we learned, the collection was taken up in the month of Adar, and beginning with the first day of Nisan, the new year began with regard to the Temple service. The Mishna on our daf teaches that all of the collected money was brought to a specific Temple office. It was removed three times during the year – 15 days before each of the shalosh regalim – and put into baskets from which it was dispensed to the people who had accepted upon themselves the responsibility of tending to the needs of the Temple service. Before each holiday the money was distributed into three kupot – baskets – one of them representing the donations of the people living in Israel, one on behalf of the people living in the countries near Israel and one for the people who lived in the further reaches of the Diaspora.
The funds are collected from the Temple treasury chamber with three baskets, each measuring three se'a. On the baskets is written, respectively, alef, beit, gimmel, based on the order in which the baskets are filled, to indicate from which basket coins should be taken to buy sacrifices. The coins were used in the order of their collection. Rabbi Yishmael says: The letters written on them were in Greek [the language commonly in use during the second Temple period], alfa, beta, gamma.
The Mishna also teaches that great care was taken to make sure that no one would steal – or be suspected of stealing – from these monies. No one was permitted to take the money from the Temple office if he was wearing clothing or shoes in which he could conceal money. To support the ruling that obligates people to show care not only before God, but also before people, and ensure that they do not suspect you of wrongdoing, the Mishna refers to passages in Bamidbar 32:22 and Mishle 3:4 that clearly indicate the need to be concerned with both heavenly and this-world suspicions.
Shekalim 7a-b: When There is Money Left Over
28/03/2021 - 15th of Nisan, 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 on yesterday's daf about what to do when more money is set aside for the mahatzit ha-shekel (half-shekel) than is required leads the Mishna to present other situations where more money was given for a mitzva than was necessary. For example, if money is collected to bury a person, what should be done with extra money that was donated?
The leftover money collected for burying the dead must be allocated to burying the dead. The leftover money collected to bury or provide burial shrouds for a particular deceased person is given to his heirs. Rabbi Meir says: It is uncertain what should be done, and therefore the leftover money for the deceased should be placed in a safe place until Elijah comes and teaches what should be done. Rabbi Natan says: With the leftover money collected for a deceased person they build a monument [nefesh] on his grave for him.
Each of these rulings deserves some explanation. Many commentaries ask by what right the Tanna Kamma can suggest that money set aside for burial purposes be given to his children. The Ramah offers an alternative interpretation to this position. He suggests that the money will go to the children who inherit the official who is responsible for burials, because the money that is given to him becomes his property. The Hazon Ish argues that the people who donate on behalf of someone's burial certainly intend to give the money as tzedaka to honor him, and recognize that he will be honored also by having his children receive the money. In his Tzafnat Pane'ah, Rav Yosef Rosen (the Rogachover) suggests that we know that there is no intent to give money to the dead man himself, rather the money is being given to his children so that they will be able to bury him properly. As such, leftover money belongs to them. Rabbi Meir's comment about the coming of the prophet Eliyahu is a common expression in the Talmud, which means that there are certain issues that we cannot determine with our own analytical powers, and we await the arrival of a prophet who can tell us what to do. This does not apply to issues of halakhic indecision, but only to technical issues where we cannot ascertain what really happened, and need prophetic insight to clarify matters. The nefesh that Rabbi Natan suggests should be built was a marker of some sort – sometimes a simple stone, and occasionally an ornate structure that was erected to honor the dead person.
Shekalim 6a-b: The Varying Amounts of Mahatzit ha-Shekel
27/03/2021 - 14th of Nisan, 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 happens if someone sets aside more money for his half-shekel than is required? According to the Mishna on our daf, Bet Hillel rules that the money is not holy, while according to Bet Shammai it will be used for voluntary sacrifices, since money set aside for holy purposes cannot be returned. Bet Hillel agrees that if more money is set aside for a sin-offering than is necessary then the extra money will be used for voluntary sacrifices. Rabbi Shimon explains that Bet Hillel distinguishes between shekalim and the korban hatat (sin offering) because of the passage describing the shekalim (Shemot 30:15) which teaches that a rich person cannot give more, nor a poor person less. Therefore, the shekel is a fixed amount and the individual who sets aside money for his shekel does not mean to give more than is necessary. The sin-offering, on the other hand, can cost any amount of money. Rabbi Yehuda objects to this, arguing that there is no fixed amount for shekalim, either. He points to different periods in history during which time different amounts were given as mahatzit ha-shekel (half-shekel). Rabbi Shimon's response is that even during those periods there was an agreed upon, set amount that everyone had to donate. In his argument, Rabbi Yehuda describes the various periods during second Temple times, when the Jews returning from exile first brought darkonot, then sela'im, then teva'im and finally, dinarim, which were rejected because their value was too small. The Ra'avad explains the story as follows. When the Jews first returned to Israel from the Diaspora there were few people and the needs of the Temple were great, so the people brought large, more valuable coins as mahatzit ha-shekel. As time went on the donations were made smaller, until they reached teva'im, which were equal in value to the required half-shekel. When people wanted to bring an even smaller coin it was rejected, since the minimum amount that could be brought was the value of a half-shekel. The Rambam interprets this story differently, due to a different understanding of the mitzva of mahatzit ha-shekel. According to him, the requirement is to bring one-half of the common currency of the time. Rabbi Shimon in the Mishna is describing that the currency changed over time and that the amount of money changed together with the coin that was in general use. When the common currency became teva'im the people had to give a whole coin, since half of that coin would have been less than the Biblical half-shekel, which is the least amount that can be given. (See Rambam Hilkhot Shekalim 1:5-6 and the Ra'avad there.)
Shekalim 5a-b: When the Half-Shekel Collection is Lost or Stolen
26/03/2021 - 13th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The second perek of Massekhet Shekalim opens with a discussion of how the shekalim are delivered to the Temple. The Mishna on our daf clarifies that there was no obligation for every individual to bring half-shekel coins to the Beit haMikdash, 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.
With regard to the residents of a town who sent their shekels to the Temple and they were stolen from the agent on the way or were lost, if the collection of the chamber had already been collected before these shekels arrived, the agents must take the oath of a bailee to the treasurers [gizbarin]. After the collection of the chamber, all the shekels that have been contributed become the property of the Temple, so the Temple treasurers who are in charge of this property become the opposing litigants of the agents. If the ceremony has not yet been performed and the contributions have not yet been collected into the baskets, the shekels are considered the property of the residents of the town, and therefore the agents must take an oath to absolve themselves to the residents of the town. Since those shekels are still considered the property of the residents of the town because the shekels never reached the Temple, they have not fulfilled their obligation. Therefore, the residents of the town must contribute other shekels in their place.
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-lishkah - was, in essence, a loan that was to be repaid when the half-shekalim arrived, as can be seen from the above Mishna. One of the concerns of the Gemara is whether the messenger in the story is paid (a shomer sakhar) or a volunteer (a shomer hinam). The law of shomer sakhar, as described in the Torah (Shemot 22:9-12), understands that in exchange for payment the guard accepts a high level of responsibility for the object he is watching. In such a case he will have to replace the object if it was lost or stolen. A shomer hinam, on the other hand (see Shemot 22:6-8) can swear that he did not act irresponsibly and will not be responsible for it. Although at first glace it appears that the case of our Mishna must be talking about a shomer hinam, who can swear and be free of any responsibility, the Gemara on our daf concludes that it could also be discussing the case of a shomer sakhar who can, in this case, swear that money had been lost or stolen because it was "lost" when the boat he was on sank or "stolen" by armed robbers. These cases are considered circumstances beyond the control of the guard, who is, therefore, not held responsible for the loss on any level.
Shekalim 4a-b: Of Samaritans and shekalim
25/03/2021 - 12th of Nisan, 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 (3b) teaches that while not required, shekalim are accepted from women and non-Jewish slaves. We will not accept a voluntary donation of shekalim from non-Jews or Samaritans. The Gemara on our daf notes that this Mishna follows the opinion of Rabbi, who rules that Kutim have the same status as non-Jews, and is against the position of Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel who rules that they are considered Jewish. The term Kutim (Samaritans) refers to the nations (not all of whom were truly Kutim, as there were people from other nations, as well) that were exiled to the Land of Israel by the kings of Assyria who were interested in populating the land after they had removed the Israelite people from it. According to Sefer Melakhim (see II Melakhim, chapter 17), these nations converted to Judaism because of their fear of lions that had begun attacking them (from which derives the term gerei arayot – "lion converts"), but they continued worshiping their gods at the same time. Upon the return of the Jews to Israel at the beginning of the Second Temple period, the Samaritans, descendants of the Kutim, were active in trying to keep the returnees from rebuilding the Temple and the walls of the city of Jerusalem. Even so, there were families – including members of the kohanim – who intermarried with the Samaritans. During the following years there were continued tensions between the two communities, and Yohanan Hyrcanus led his troops into battle against the Samaritans and destroyed the temple that they had built on Har Gerizim. Nevertheless, there were also periods of cooperation, such as the period of the Bar Kokhba rebellion. As is clear in our Gemara, the attitude of the Sages towards them differed, although after a period of time a final conclusion was reached and they were ruled to be treated as non-Jews, due to their continued involvement with different types of idol worship. It is important to note that the Gemara in Yevamot concludes that while a bet din should not accept potential converts whose reason for converting is anything other than a sincere desire to join the Jewish People, nevertheless, if such a person does undergo a full conversion process they are considered Jewish according to halakha. It is possible that the Kutim did not fall into that category because they continued with their idolatrous practices even at the moment of their conversion. Nevertheless, today, the community of Samaritans living in Israel are no longer idol worshipers, and there has been some level of acceptance of them into the larger Jewish community.
Shekalim 3a-b: Marking Graves in Preparation for Pesah
24/03/2021 - 11th of Nisan, 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 first Mishna in Massekhet Shekalim (2a) we are taught that on the first day of the month of Adar we announce that people should begin to bring their shekalim. The Mishna teaches a number of other activities that take place during Adar, among them the celebration of Purim, and public works that need to be done as the rainy season in Israel draws to a close. These public works projects include a number of activities in preparation for the groups of people who will be traveling to Jerusalem for Pesah – for example, clearing the roads and mikva'ot and marking graves so that the people who are coming to bring sacrifices will not, inadvertently, become ritually defiled by contact with a grave and be unable to enter the Temple.
The Gemara asks: From where is the obligation of marking graves derived?…Rabbi Ila in the name of Rabbi Shmuel bar Nahman cited a different verse in this regard: “And when they that pass through shall pass through the land, and anyone sees a man’s bone, then shall he set up a sign by it, till the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamon-gog” (Yehezkel 39:15). This verse explicitly states that there is a need to mark graves.
This passage from Yehezkel describes the calamity of the war of Gog and Magog, and how it will take seven months for all of the dead to be properly buried so that the land of Israel will once again be tahor (ritually pure). The prophet describes the method that is to be used to carefully mark the graves, bone by bone. This source for the halakha that graves must be marked (see Rambam, Hilkhot Tum'at Met 8:9) appears in Massekhet Mo'ed Katan, while it is introduced as a remez – a hint – to the law, rather than as the actual source. Given the clarity of the story in Yehezkel, many of the commentaries ask why the passage is only considered a remez. From Rashi it appears that since it is not presented as an obligation, but rather as a story, it cannot be considered a true source. Tosafot suggest that the story can only be considered a hint to the halakha because it is a description of an event that will take place "at the end of days." Such a story cannot be the source for a present day halakhic obligation. It should be noted that our Gemara, which as we explained above is Yerushalmi, presents this as a true source text, not simply as a remez. In fact, it is not uncommon to find the Bavli discounting a source unless it appears in the hamisha humshei Torah (the Five Books of Moses), while the Yerushalmi accepts other sources from Tanakh as well.
Shekalim 2a-b: Bringing the Half-Shekel
23/03/2021 - 10th of Nisan, 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 the Torah tells us (see Shemot 30:11-16) every Jewish adult male was commanded to bring a mahatzit ha-shekel – a half-shekel – as a donation to the Temple service. It is clear from stories in Tanakh that this obligation was not just for use in the mishkan in the desert, but was an on-going requirement for as long as the Temple stood. The story of the re-dedication of the Temple by King Yeho'ash – and his specific request that the mahatzit ha-shekel be brought – appears both in Sefer Melakhim (II Melakhim 12:5-6, where it is called kesef over, a reference to the person who is over al ha-pekudim, see Shemot 30:13) and in Divrei ha-Yamim (II Divrei ha-Yamim 24:9-14, where it is referred to as mas'at Moshe – Moshe's tax). We also find this commandment mentioned during the Second Temple period. In Sefer Nehemiah (10:33-34) we learn that the yearly tax was one-third of a shekel, whose purpose was to pay for the communal sacrifices. The value of a shekel varied with time, and in every generation it was necessary to figure out the exchange rate so that the value of a half shekel would be given in the currency of that time. According to the Ramban, the Persian money was worth more so the value of one-third of a shekel was the equivalent of the half-shekel of the Torah. During the time of the Mishna the shekel was worth half of a sela, so that one Mishnaic shekel was the equivalent of the Biblical half-shekel, which is why we will find the Mishna referring to a shekel when discussing this mitzva.
Mishna: On the first of Adar the court proclaims concerning the collection of shekels... Gemara: And why specifically on the first of Adar? The Gemara answers: This was done in order that Jews would bring their shekels to the designated Temple chamber in the proper time, as the shekels had to be collected before the beginning of Nisan each year. And this would ensure that the collection of the Temple treasury chamber would be collected from the new shekels at its proper time, which is on the first of the month of Nisan, i.e., the beginning of the Temple year. After that date all communal offerings must be purchased from the new shekels.
Pesaḥim 121a-b: Redeeming the Firstborn
22/03/2021 - 9th of Nisan, 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 very last Mishna in the massekhet deals with the various blessings made when eating the sacrifices at the seder during the Temple period. Can the general berakha on the korban hagiga brought for the holiday cover the korban Pesah, as well, or does each need its own berakha? According to the Mishna, this question is debated by Rabbi Yishmael, who believes that one may cover the other, and Rabbi Akiva, who believes that, under all circumstances, each will need its own berakha. From this discussion the Gemara segues to a question about pidyon ha-ben - redeeming the first-born.
Rabbi Simlai attended a redemption of the firstborn son. The celebrants raised a dilemma before him with regard to the blessings. First they noted that it is obvious that the blessing over the redemption of a first born son, which is: Who sanctified us with His mitzvot and commanded us over the redemption of the firstborn son, is certainly recited by the father of the son, as he is the one obligated to redeem his son. However with regard to the second blessing: Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has given us life [sheheheyanu], sustained us, and brought us to this time, does the priest recite this blessing, or does the father of the son recite it?
The Gemara concludes that the question was presented to the scholars in the Bet Midrash and they ruled that the father makes both berakhot. The Nemukei Yosef explains the question as follows: On the one hand, the father who is performing the mitzva is doing it with some financial outlay, so perhaps the kohen should say it, since his participation involves only benefit to himself. On the other hand, in this case the father is enjoying something that goes well beyond the performance of a mitzva. Since the pidyon ha-ben takes place only after 30 days, when we are certain that the baby has reached a level that he will not be considered a nefel (stillborn), there is certainly an additional element of joy for the father. The Rashash comments on this Gemara that really both parties should be saying she-heheyanu, each for their own reason. The Gemara's question is which of them has a greater level of obligation, so that he should say it on behalf of both participants.
Pesaḥim 120a-b: Eating Before Midnight
21/03/2021 - 8th of Nisan, 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 last Mishnayot in Massekhet Pesahim return to the discussion of the korban Pesah itself, within the context of eating it at the seder. The Mishna on our daf teaches that if all of the people fell asleep, then their korban Pesah cannot be eaten - explained in the Yerushalmi as due to the fact that people need to be thinking about the sacrifice, something that they cannot have been doing if they were asleep. Furthermore, according to the Mishna, if the korban is not eaten by midnight it becomes notar - leftover - and cannot be eaten. The Gemara identifies the position that the korban Pesah must be eaten by midnight with Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya, who understands the command to eat the sacrifice ba-layla ha-zeh (Shemot 12:8) to mean the same time that God traveled through Egypt for Makat Bekhorot, the last of the plagues, which took place at midnight ba-layla ha-zeh (see 12:12). Rabbi Akiva disagrees with this reading of the pasuk and argues that it can be eaten throughout the night, reasoning that ba-layla simply teaches us that it is a unique korban that can only be eaten at night and not on the following day. The Jerusalem Talmud suggests that even Rabbi Akiva agrees that as a Rabbinic ordinance - in order to avoid the possibility of eating the korban past its time - the korban Pesah must be consumed by midnight. Based on this understanding of Rabbi Akiva, the Mishna that declares the Passover sacrifice to be notar after midnight can be Rabbi Akiva's position, as well, just on a Rabbinic level. The Shulhan Aruk (Orah Hayyim 477:1) recommends that we finish the last matza - the afikoman - at our seder before midnight as the matza today represents the korban Pesah that we can no longer bring. The Rema (ibid) goes so far as to suggest that Hallel should also be completed before midnight, since it accompanied the sacrifice during the times of the Temple.
Pesaḥim 119a-b: After Eating the Korban
20/03/2021 - 7th of Nisan, 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 answer that we give to the "wise son" at the seder is ein maftirin ahar ha-pesah afikoman - that we do not eat any dessert after the Passover sacrifice is eaten. This phrase appears in the Mishna on our daf, and with it we close the Mishna's discussion of the seder night (in fact, the answer being given to the "wise son" most probably means that he should be taught all of the halakhot in the Mishna that deal with the seder, up to and including this Mishna). Although the intent of this halakha is clear, the language of the Mishna is somewhat obscure. Clearly eating after the korban Pesah is consumed is forbidden; according to the Me'iri, this is so that it will be eaten al ha'sova - as the final ka-zayit (olive-sized portion) of a filling meal. The word maftirin is understood by the Bartenura to mean “to open” or “begin” - as in peter rekhem (see Shemot 13:2) - meaning in our context to begin eating something else after the korban. Rashi and the Rashbam interpret it as “to end” - that the meal should not end with something else, but only with the sacrifice. The Gemara itself asks what an afikoman is and quotes:
  • Rav, who holds that it means you cannot leave your group and go to another after the korban was eaten,
  • Shmuel, who says that you cannot have the usual delicacies at the end of a meal (what we would call dessert), and
  • Rabbi Yohanan who says that it includes dates or nuts that are eaten with the meal.
Suggestions abound for a definition of the term afikoman. The Mekhtam suggests that it is an abbreviation of two words:
  • according to Rav, afiku mani ("remove the utensils")
  • according to Shmuel, afiku mini ("bring out dessert")
The Yerushalmi brings an opinion that it means music that is played at the end of a festive meal, leading to the conclusion of some rishonim that even speaking should be limited after the eating of the Pesah.
Pesaḥim 118a-b: Praising God
19/03/2021 - 6th of Nisan, 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
Aside from the standard Hallel (Tehillim 113-118) that is recited during the seder, we also are instructed by the baraita on our daf to say Hallel ha-Gadol. Although there is a disagreement recorded in the Gemara regarding which psalms make up Hallel ha-Gadol, we follow the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda who says that it is the whole of Tehillim 136. Tehillim 136 encompasses 26 praises of God from the time of creation through the Jewish People entering the Land of Israel. Having introduced Hallel ha-Gadol as part of the praise said during the seder, the question is raised why we usually choose to recite the standard Hallel instead. The Gemara points out five unique areas that are focused on in the standard Hallel which make it appropriate:
  1. Exodus from Egypt (114:1)
  2. Splitting of the Red Sea (114:3)
  3. Giving of the Torah (114:4)
  4. Resurrecting the dead (116:9)
  5. The pangs of the Messiah (115:1)
The discussion of Hallel leads to further aggadic discussions of these chapters in Tehillim, concluding with a number of teachings that Rabbi Yishmael b'Rabbi Yosei quoted in the name of his father. One of them was an analysis of Tehillim 117, which describes how all the nations of the world praise God because of what He did on behalf of the Jewish people. The question is obvious - why should the nations of the world praise God because of what he did for us? Rabbi Yosei taught that the intention of the passage is to say that we should watch the nations of the world praise God when He does something for them, and learn how much we are obligated to praise Him since His generosity to us was even greater. Rabbi Yosei’s teachings about related issues are also brought in the Gemara. Based on the passage in Tehillim (68:30) we see that, in the future, Egypt will want to bring an offering to the Messiah, who is not sure whether to accept it from them. God commands (68:32) him to accept it in recognition of the fact that the Jewish people lived peacefully in Egypt for many years before slavery began. Seeing this, Kush also expresses a desire to bring an offering to the Messiah (ibid), and again, God commands him to accept it. Rome, on the other hand (68:31) wants to join the show of respect, as well. God rejects their request, however. Rabbi Hiyya bar Abba quotes Rabbi Yohanan as explaining the passage to mean that the offering of wild bulls (Rome), whose actions are all written in one quill, cannot be accepted. Rashi and the Rashbam understand the reference to a single quill as meaning that they always intend evil for the Jewish people. Some of the Ge'onim explain this expression to mean that the activities of this nation can be summed up in a clear, straightforward manner. Others explain that every nation has two angels, one of whom records the positive attributes of the nation, while the other records all of its negative attributes. Rome is described as having only one angel - the evil one - writing down its history.
Pesaḥim 117a-b: The Fifth Cup
18/03/2021 - 5th of Nisan, 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 concludes the discussion of the seder with the last two of the four cups. The Mishna teaches that the third cup accompanies the grace after meals, and the fourth cup accompanies the completion of Hallel. The Mishna also teaches that no other wine can be drunk between these last two cups. The Jerusalem Talmud explains the prohibition against drinking between these cups of wine as stemming from a concern lest the participants in the seder become drunk, for drinking before the meal or during the meal is not as intoxicating as wine drunk after the meal without any other food. The Ge'onim simply explain that this is connected to the general prohibition against eating anything after the afikoman - the last matza eaten at the end of the seder - aside from what is expressly commanded by the Sages. The Ra'avad argues that drinking more wine toward the end of the seder would have the effect of hiding the unique four cups that we drink on this night. In order to emphasize the celebration of the miracle of the Exodus through these four cups (see Pesahim 99), we cannot add to them. It is interesting to note that there are variant readings of this Mishna, one of which suggests that there is a fifth cup on which Hallel ha-Gadol (see full explanation on daf 118) is recited. This was, apparently, the version of the Mishna that appeared before the Rif and Rabbenu Hananel, who rule that there is a mitzva to drink a fifth cup, as well. Even the Rambam, who rules that there is no obligation to drink a fifth cup, allows one to do so. It appears that this disagreement is the source for our Kos shel Eliyahu, which is poured towards the end of the seder, but is not drunk. Tradition has it that it is left for the prophet Eliyahu who visits every Jewish home on the seder night, foreshadowing the ultimate redemption..
Pesaḥim 116a-b: Moving on to Maggid
17/03/2021 - 4th of Nisan, 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 part of the Maggid section of the Haggada is described in the Mishnayot on our daf. Its key components include:
  1. The four questions (Ma nishtana)
  2. Begin with disgrace but conclude with glory (mat'hil be-genut u-messayem be-shevah)
  3. Tell the story based on the passage in Devarim 26:5-9 (Arami oved avi)
  4. The need to explain the role of Pesah, Matza and Maror
  5. The inclusion of Hallel in the story
With regard to the questions, ideally the child is supposed to be drawn to ask questions by our behavior at the seder meal. The Nemukei Yosef says that it is the second cup of wine poured that should elicit questions: If we just made Kiddush, why are we bringing a second cup, which appears to be preparation for birkat ha-mazon, if we haven't yet eaten the meal?! According to the Tosafot Rid, it is the karpas that should get the children's attention: Why are we skipping ha-motzi over bread tonight and going straight to the vegetables instead?
It was taught in the mishna that the father begins his answer with disgrace and concludes with glory. The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of the term: With disgrace? Rav said that one should begin by saying: At first our forefathers were idol worshippers, before concluding with words of glory. And Shmuel said: The disgrace with which one should begin his answer is: We were slaves.
The Maharal writes in his Gevurot HaShem that their disagreement is over which of these should be considered the greatest generosity of God towards the Jewish people. Was it, as Rav understands, the spiritual redemption, or was it, as Shmuel believes, the physical redemption that we celebrate on this night? Although Hallel is a central part of the seder, it is only the conclusion of the maggid section. Some commentaries say that we do not say a blessing over Hallel during the seder, because it is divided into two parts. Rav Hai Ga'on suggests that it is not recited as praise, but as a song that accompanies the seder, so no berakha is made. According to the Massekhet Sofrim, we are obligated to say Hallel in the synagogue as part of our prayers before we begin the seder. The berakha is made on that recitation of the Hallel, so there is no need to make a blessing over it again at the seder.
Pesaḥim 115a-b: Fulfilling Two Mitzvot Together
16/03/2021 - 3rd of Nisan, 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 we sit down to the seder, among the most important mitzvot that we fulfill is eating matza and maror. Our tradition is to first make the appropriate blessings (ha-motzi and al akhilat matza) on the matza, then to make the blessing on the maror (al akhilat maror - the blessing of bori pri ha-adama having already been recited on the karpas - see the discussion on the last daf, and finally to make a sandwich from them together, reminding us of Hillel's tradition during Temple times. This tradition is based on the conclusion of our Gemara, which points out that Hillel was of the opinion that ein mitzvot mevatlot zo et zo - that two mitzvot done together do not negate one another. That is to say, that the commandment to eat matza (or maror) does not need to be done on its own and can be done in conjunction with another commandment. Hillel argues that this is the intention of the passage (Bamidbar 9:11) al matzot u-merarim yokhluhu - that the Passover sacrifice will be eaten together with the matza and the maror. The Aruk points out that this will only be true if both of the commandments being fulfilled at the same time are on the same level - that they are both Biblical commands. If, however, one of them was on a lower level (for example, if one of them was only a Rabbinic obligation), then it is likely that we would rule that they could not be done together. Since the accepted halakha is that since the destruction of the Temple - with the korban Pesah no longer being sacrificed - maror is only a Rabbinic obligation, we can no longer eat matza and maror together. Thus we first eat them separately and only afterwards eat them together as a remembrance of what Hillel did in the time of the Mikdash. This point is actually made in the Gemara itself, where Hillel is quoted as saying that in our day eating matza is a Biblical command while eating maror is only Rabbinic, so the two cannot be eaten together. Rav Ya'akov Emden points out that that this Hillel quoted by the Gemara does not appear to be Hillel ha-Zaken, Shammai's contemporary, head of the Sanhedrin, who lived during the time of the Temple. More likely it is his descendant, one of the last nessi'im of the Jewish community in Israel, who established the set calendar that is still used to our day
Pesaḥim 114a-b: Double Dip
15/03/2021 - 2nd of Nisan, 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 discusses one of the famous "four questions" of the Seder. Here we learn about the first of the two "dippings," this one is what we call karpas, that is dipped in salt water. The second "dipping" is, of course, the maror, the bitter herbs that are dipped in haroset. The example that the Gemara uses as the vegetable for karpas is hazeret, a type of bitter herb that can also be used for the maror. The fact that you could, potentially, eat this herb at the beginning of the Seder as an appetizer and then later in the meal as the fulfillment of the mitzva of maror, leads Reish Lakish to conclude that mitzvot tzerihot kavvana – that in order to fulfill a commandment you must have intention to do so (otherwise there would be no need to eat the maror a second time – you would have already fulfilled the mitzva, albeit a little early on, at the beginning of the Seder).
The Gemara rejects this contention: From where do you know that this is the case? Perhaps I can say that actually mitzvot do not require intent. And that which you said, why do I need two dippings, perhaps the reason is so that there should be a conspicuous distinction for the children, which will cause them to inquire into the difference between this night and all others.
The Tosafot Yom Tov explains the oddity in the "double dip" by pointing out that wealthy people eat vegetables during the meal as an appetizer, while poor people eat them before the meal so that they will fill themselves up. Thus, eating vegetables both before and during the meal should provoke questions. With regard to the question of mitzvot tzerihot kavvana, the Maharam Halava points out that the discussion is whether a person needs to be aware that he is doing a mitzva. No one would obligate a person to think about the deep meaning of the mitzva in order to fulfill it. Rav Hai Ga'on rules that although the conclusion of the Gemara seems to be that a person does not need to have intent in order to fulfill mitzvot, nevertheless a person should do his best to have intent, and he should strive to focus in on the performance of the mitzva to the best of his ability. In fact we find many short prayers that have been established to be said before the performance of a mitzva in order to encourage as high a level of intent as possible.
Pesaḥim 113a-b: One Who is Despised by God
14/03/2021 - 1st of Nisan, 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 often makes use of a statement of aggada to segue to a broader discussion of non-halakhic matters. The teachings of Rabbi Akiva to his son, which appeared on yesterday's daf, lead the Gemara to quote from a collection of statements made by individual Sages to their children, many of them referring to issues of a mystical and, on occasion, personal, nature. One list that is presented tells us about three people who are loved by God, and three that are despised by Him. The people who God loves include:
  • A person who does not get angry
  • A person who does not get drunk
  • Someone who is willing to concede his position
The people who God despises are:
  • Someone whose speech does not express his true feelings
  • Someone who withholds testimony on behalf of his fellow that he knows
  • A single individual who comes to testify about a sexual matter
The Maharsha points out that all of these cases – both the positive list and the negative one – are people whose actions and behaviors affect his relationship with his fellow man, teaching us that someone who gets along with others is loved by God and someone who does not get along with others is hated by Him.
The Gemara gives an example of the last case of someone despised by God. This is like that incident where Tuveya sinned with immorality, and Zigud came alone to testify about him before Rav Pappa. Rav Pappa instructed that Zigud be lashed. Zigud said to him: Tuveya sinned and Zigud is lashed, an objection that became a popular saying. He said to him: Yes, as it is written: "One witness shall not rise up against a man" (Devarim 19:15), and you testified against him alone. You have merely given him a bad reputation.
The problem with a person testifying on his own is that Jewish law does not accept the testimony of a single witness, except in monetary cases where the testimony of a single witness will lead to a ruling that the accused must take an oath that he does not owe the money. In other cases, where the court cannot act based on the single witness, it is simply slander to tell stories about another (see Shulhan Arukh, Hoshen Mishpat 28:1).
Pesaḥim 112a-b: Accepting Charity to Fulfill the Mitzva of the Four Cups
13/03/2021 - 29th of Adar, 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 (99b) we learned that even a poor person should be sure to have four cups of wine to drink, even if it means accepting it from the charity kitchen. The Gemara on our daf asks why the Mishna needs to teach us that someone should take money from charity to fulfill the mitzva of drinking four cups. Isn't it obvious that if someone needs to fulfill a mitzva that he should accept money from charity?
The Gemara answers: The mishna is necessary only to teach that this halakha applies even according to the opinion of Rabbi Akiva, who said: Make your Shabbat like an ordinary weekday and do not be beholden to other beings. If one is unable to honor Shabbat without financial help from others, it is better for him to save money and eat his Shabbat meals as he would on a weekday rather than rely on other people. Here, in the case of the four cups, Rabbi Akiva concedes that it is appropriate for a poor person to request assistance from the community, due to the obligation to publicize the miracle.
Having presented Rabbi Akiva's opinion, the Gemara quotes a series of statements that Rabbi Akiva taught his son Rabbi Yehoshua, the final one being the rule of avoiding charity even if it affects your Shabbat. Among them are:
  • "Do not sit at the high point of a city when you are learning Torah." The Seder ha-Dorot interprets this as an admonition to avoid learning Torah in a place where there are throngs of people. Torah should be studied in the quiet and privacy of home or the Bet Midrash.
  • "Do not live in a city whose leaders are Torah scholars." The Ben Yehoyada explains that the leader of the city is obligated to constantly remind the townsfolk of their misdemeanors, so they generally do not like him. Were he a Talmid Hakham, the people would likely share the hatred that they had for him to other Torah scholars, as well.
  • "Do not enter your home suddenly, and certainly you should not enter a neighbor's home without warning." In Massekhet Derekh Eretz this rule is supported by the passage in Sefer Bereshit (3:9) in which we find that God Himself "stood" at the entrance to the Garden of Eden and called out to Adam when he needed to admonish him about having eaten from the Etz ha-Da'at (Tree of Knowledge).
Pesaḥim 111a-b: More on Magic and Destructive Forces
12/03/2021 - 28th of Adar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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As noted on yesterday's daf, our Gemara is in the midst of a lengthy discussion about magic and destructive forces – ideas that were popular during the Talmudic age that were not actively discouraged by the Sages if they were "harmless" in the sense that they did not involve idol worship or forbidden activities. It appears that at least some of these popular beliefs were based on experience and diagnosis that were not fully understood centuries before microscopic germs had been seen through a lens. Thus, the Gemara informs us that the creature who is responsible for food is called "Nakid" (perhaps a play on the word naki – clean), while the creature responsible for poverty is called "Naval," and that a house where crumbs are left on the floor is visited by Naval, while a house where proper care is taken with food is visited by Nakid. As the Aruk points out, the Gemara is not only "introducing" us to metaphysical forces that lurk in the house, but is also teaching basic rules of cleanliness. Homes where basic rules of sanitation are kept will be "ruled" by the Lord of Food, while places where hygiene is lacking and food is not treated in a clean, respectful manner will be governed by the Lord of Poverty. Other recommendations made by the Gemara on our daf include Rav Yosef's admonition about activities that lead to a loss of vision (note that Rav Yosef, himself, was blind). The first such activity is combing hair when it is dry. This may refer to a brief period of vision loss when vigorous combing – particularly of dry hair that is stuck together – may affect the scalp and create a nerve reflex that may cause partial loss of sight for a short time. The second activity that he mentions is drinking in a manner that he call "tif tif." This may refer to someone who drinks the dregs of a wine barrel, where the alcohol level is higher than normal. The high alcohol level may cause a slight poisoning that can lead to partial blindness. Rav Yosef's final recommendation is to avoid putting on shoes when your feet are still wet. This, too, may be explained by suggesting that rheumatic damage can affect the optic nerve, causing visual disorders.
Pesaḥim 110a-b: Danger In Pairs
11/03/2021 - 27th of Adar, 5781
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The Me'iri points out that during Talmudic times there were popular beliefs in destructive forces, amulets, etc. - ideas that today would be considered superstition. As long as these beliefs did not involve Avoda Zara or actual witchcraft, the Sages made no attempt to convince the people that they were untrue. This was certainly true in cases where these beliefs were so strong that the psychological belief would cause a physiological reaction to a given circumstance. The Gemara's formulation of this appears at the end of the discussion here, which recognizes that those who are concerned about such things should be concerned, but those who are not particular about them do not need to worry. One of these beliefs was the danger of zugot – that is to say, that doing things in pairs was hazardous. This concern leads to a question being raised about the Seder night. How can the Sages obligate participants to drink four cups of wine, when doing so would be involving oneself in zugot?
Rav Nahman said that the verse said: “It was a night of watching to the Lord” (Shmot 12:42), which indicates that Passover night is a night that remains guarded from demons and harmful spirits of all kinds. Therefore, there is no cause for concern about this form of danger on this particular night. Rava said a different answer: The cup of blessing for Grace after Meals on Passover night is used in the performance of an additional mitzva and is not simply an expression of freedom. Therefore, it combines with the other cups for the good, i.e., to fulfill the mitzva to drink four cups, and it does not combine for the bad.
The lengthy discussion of zugot in our Gemara includes a conversation between Rav Pappa and Yosef the Demon [Shida] about the respective dangers of one set of zugot (two) and two sets of zugot (four). The identity of Yosef Shida, who appears in a number of stories throughout the Gemara, is not clear. Rashi brings two possible explanations, one which sees him as a person who was an expert in shedim (demons) and the occult, while the second suggests that he was, himself, a demon with whom the Sages developed a relationship to the extent that they discussed issues of shedim with him. Either one of these explanations can be supported by the various stories about shedim that appear in the Gemara.
Pesaḥim 109a-b: So the Children Will Ask
10/03/2021 - 26th of Adar, 5781
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Seder night is an opportunity for parents to tell the Exodus story to their children (see Shmot 13:8). If the children fall asleep, then the opportunity will be lost, so the Gemara on our daf tells us what the different Sages did in order to keep their children awake and participating (see Shmot 13:14). Rabbi Yehuda argues that children will not enjoy the wine, so they should be kept awake by the distribution of nuts and roasted grain, which, in fact, was the custom that Rabbi Akiva followed at the Seder. Rabbi Eliezer suggested that a good method to keep the children from sleeping is hotfin matzot (literally to "grab the matzot") during the Seder. Several explanations are given for the custom of hotfin matzot. Some say that is means that we should hurry through the Seder and try to get to the meal when the matzot are eaten as quickly as possible so that the children will not go to sleep before they have an opportunity to ask questions. Others say that this means that we would grab matzot from the children if they begin to eat them towards the beginning of the Seder, lest the children feel that they have already eaten their meal and can go to bed. Another explanation is that the matza (and, indeed, the entire table) is removed before it is eaten in order to make the inquisitive child ask why the food is being taken away before the meal was eaten. Rabbenu Yehonatan argues that the Gemara is recommending making a game out of the matzot, and grabbing them from one another so that the children will be drawn in to the festivities. According to the Rambam it is the adults who play such games, and the joy and happiness of the celebratory meal shows the extent to which they cherish the mitzva, as well as fascinating the children with the unusual behavior, leading them to stay awake and ask questions.
Pesaḥim 108a-b: Women at the Seder
09/03/2021 - 25th of Adar, 5781
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What role do women play at the Seder? Generally speaking, women are not obligated in Mitzvot aseh she-hazman gerama – positive commandments that are dependent on time. Thus, women are not obligated to sit in a Sukka on Sukkot, nor are they obligated to wear tzizit or to lay tefillin, which are only done during the day. Based on this principle, we would anticipate that women would not be obligated in the mitzvot of Seder night. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi teaches that women are obligated in the four cups of wine at the Seder , she'af hen hayu be-oto ha-nes – that they were involved in the miracle of the Exodus. There is a difference of opinion regarding this teaching. According to the Rashi and the Rashbam the Jewish women in Egypt played a crucial role in the miracle, similar to the role played by Esther in the Purim story, where we also apply this rule and obligate women in the mitzvot of Purim. Others argue that they had a greater level of suffering in Egypt, because of the decree that the first-born would be drowned, which affected the mothers more than it did the fathers. According to Tosafot, it is enough to say that women were part of the miracle in order to obligate them, even if their role was no greater than that of the men. Another mitzva of the Seder night is eating in a reclining position. Here the Gemara rules that a woman does not recline when in the presence of her husband, but if she is an important woman, then she does. According to the Mekhtam, this rule is based on the fact that most women do not recline, so it is not considered an expression of freedom for them to do so. An important woman, who does make a habit of reclining, is obligated to show her freedom by eating in that position. The Nemukei Yosef explains this rule by arguing that most women who work in the kitchen and are involved in preparing the meal cannot ignore a certain aspect of servitude in their routine. An important woman, who has servants who do her bidding, can see herself as a free woman who can recline. It is important to note that the Rema in his gloss to the Shulhan Arukh (Orah Hayyim 472:4) comments that in our day and age, all of the women in our community are considered important, and theoretically are obligated to recline at the Seder. Since, however, eating in a reclining position is no longer considered an indication of freedom, many do not choose to do so.
Pesaḥim 107a-b: The Wine of the Land
08/03/2021 - 24th of Adar, 5781
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One of the concerns of the Gemara on our daf is whether kiddush and havdala must be done with a cup of wine, or if other alcoholic beverages might be substituted for the wine. The idea that certain religious ceremonies are to be accompanied by wine is not only based on the tradition in the Land of Israel during Talmudic times, but is also evident in the connection between many religious ceremonies and the Temple service. The only libation on the Temple altar was wine (with the notable exception of water during Sukkot), and the songs that accompanied the service were sung while the wine was poured. No other drink - no matter how outstanding - can be compared to this. The idea of substituting other drinks, referred to in the Gemara as Hamar Medina - "the wine of this land" - stems from the following story, related on our daf:
The Gemara relates that the Mar Yanuka, the younger Mar, and Mar Kashisha, the elder Mar, both sons of Rav Hisda, said to Rav Ashi: Once Ameimar happened to come to our place and we did not have wine for havdala. We brought him beer and he did not recite havdala, and he passed the night fasting, as it is prohibited to eat before havdala. The next day we exerted ourselves and brought him wine, and he recited havdala and tasted some food. The next year he again happened to come to our place. Once again we did not have wine and we brought him beer. He said: If so, if it is so difficult to obtain wine in your place, beer is the wine of the province [Hamar Medina]. He recited havdala over the beer and tasted some food.
The Gemara derives three rules from this story: Even after making havdala during the evening prayers, one must make it again accompanied by a cup of wine (or its equivalent) One cannot eat before making havdala on the cup Someone who did not make havdala on Saturday night can make it later on during the week. This issue of wine vs. other drinks is open to discussion even today. The Shulhan Arukh (Orah Hayyim 272:9) quotes a difference of opinion on the halakha. One opinion allows the use of Hamar Medina for kiddush; others permit the use of bread if no wine is available. With regard to havdala, if wine is not readily available Hamar Medina can be used, but bread cannot (Orah Hayyim 296:2).
Pesaḥim 106a-b: The Great Kiddush
07/03/2021 - 23rd of Adar, 5781
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From the passage (Shmot 20:7) "Remember the day of Shabbat to sanctify it," our Gemara learns that we are obligated to sanctify Shabbat by making kiddush not only at night, but during the day, as well. Rav Yehuda comments that the Shabbat morning kiddush consists solely of the blessing over wine - Borei pri ha-gafen.
The Gemara relates that Rav Ashi happened to come to the city of Mehoza. The Sages of Mehoza said to him on Shabbat day: Will the Master recite for us the great kiddush? And they immediately brought him a cup of wine. Rav Ashi was unsure what they meant by the term great kiddush and wondered if the residents of Mehoza included other matters in their kiddush. He thought: What is this great kiddush to which they refer? He said to himself: Since with regard to all the blessings that require a cup of wine, one first recites the blessing: Who creates the fruit of the vine, I will start with that blessing. He recited: Who creates the fruit of the vine, and lengthened it to see if they were expecting an additional blessing. He saw a particular elder bending over his cup and drinking, and he realized that this was the end of the great kiddush. He read the following verse about himself: “The wise man, his eyes are in his head” (Kohelet 2:14), as he was alert enough to discern the expectations of the local residents.
One very straightforward question raised with regard to kiddush on Shabbat morning is why the simple blessing of Borei pri ha-gafen should be considered kiddush at all. It appears to be simply a berakha that is typically made over a cup of wine. The Mekhtam suggests that since drinking a cup of wine is a requirement specifically on Shabbat morning, it honors the Shabbat and, as such, is considered to be kiddush. The Tosafot Ri"d adds that during the week someone can choose to include wine in his meal or refrain from doing so. Since the cup of wine opens the meal on Shabbat, it is appropriate to begin with kiddush. The expression Kiddusha Rabba - the great kiddush - for a blessing that simply consists of Borei pri ha-gafen seems a bit odd. Rashi and the Rashbam explain that it refers to the fact that Borei pri ha-gafen is a much more common blessing than kiddush, which is said only once a week, so it is said with greater frequency. According to Rabbenu Yehonatan it receives that title because of the role that this blessing plays in honoring the Shabbat. The Mekhtam suggests that it is lashon Sagi Nahor - an expression used by the Talmud to suggest the opposite of its simple meaning. Since we do not want to "belittle" this very simple blessing we switch its name to "the great kiddush."
Pesaḥim 105a-b: Establishing Shabbat
06/03/2021 - 22nd of Adar, 5781
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As we have learned before, if someone is eating a meal on Friday and the meal extends into Shabbat, we do not need to end the meal entirely; rather we can cover the bread and make Kiddush. Our Gemara discusses the case of someone who is eating the third Shabbat meal and it extends after Shabbat is over. To clarify these halakhot, the Gemara tells a story about such cases and the behavior of the Sages when faced with these circumstances.
Rav Hananya bar Shelemya and other students of Rav were sitting at a meal on Shabbat eve shortly before nightfall, and Rav Hamnuna the Elder was standing over them to serve them. They said to him: Go and see if the day of Shabbat has become sanctified through nightfall. If so, we will interrupt our meal by removing the tables and establish its continuation as the meal for Shabbat. Rav Hamnuna the Elder said to them: You do not need to do this, as Shabbat establishes itself. Whatever you eat after nightfall is automatically considered a Shabbat meal, even without any specific action that designates it as such.
They all thought that this same rule would apply to the end of Shabbat, as well, but when it came to late afternoon on Shabbat, Rav Amram told them that Shabbat establishes itself with regard to Kiddush, but not with regard to havdala. There are several approaches to the rule introduced by Rav Hamnuna the Elder, that "Shabbat establishes itself." The Ba'al ha-Ma'or (Rav Zerahia ha-Levi) explains that they had sent Rav Hamnuna the Elder to check whether sundown had taken place, and he responded that Shabbat would not actually begin until the stars came out. The Rif argues that it was already dark and they asked whether the stars had come out. Rav Hamnuna the Elder told them that they had missed their opportunity to accept Shabbat, since Shabbat already had begun and had imposed itself on everyone, whether they had chosen to acknowledge it in their Kiddush or not. As far as the halakha is concerned, the Shulhan Arukh (Orah Hayyim 271:4) rules that a Friday afternoon meal can be turned into a Shabbat meal by covering the bread and making Kiddush. With regard to havdala, once Shabbat ends nothing can be eaten until after havdala is made. If, however, someone was already in the middle of a Shabbat meal the common practice is to finish the meal, although there are opinions that, once it is totally dark outside, a person should end his meal (Orah Hayyim 299:1).
Pesaḥim 104a-b: Distinctions Between Holy and Profane
05/03/2021 - 21st of Adar, 5781
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The standard text of havdala includes not only a statement formally acknowledging that Shabbat or Yom Tov has ended, but also a series of distinctions - of things that stand in contrast to one another. This tradition stems from the statement of Rabbi Elazar quoting Rabbi Oshaya that at least three such distinctions are to be included in the havdala blessing, but no more than seven. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi comments that ideally the model of the havdala blessing should be distinctions made in the Torah itself. Although the Gemara does include examples of Biblical distinctions (e.g. between holy and profane, between light and darkness, between Shabbat - the day of rest - and the six working days of the week), it is interesting that one of the most basic statements in the Torah is left out. In Shmot 26:33, the Torah teaches that when building the Mishkan, there is a parohet that separates between the Holy and the Holy-of-Holies. Some argue that the parohet is a man-made object that divided the Mishkan. In havdala we are searching for distinctions that were developed by God himself. Others point out that the separation of the parohet no longer exists, as opposed to the other examples, which are eternal. Perhaps the simplest explanation is the one put forward by the Me'iri, who argues that the statement of distinction made when a Yom Tov falls out immediately after Shabbat - bein kodesh le-kodesh ("between holy and holy") - stems from the separation of the parohet in the Mishkan, which is the source for the concept of distinguishing between two levels of holiness.
This discussion notwithstanding, the Gemara quotes Rabbi Yohanan as saying: The son of sacred ones recites only one distinction, but the people were accustomed to recite three distinctions. The Gemara asks: Who is this person called the son of sacred ones? The Gemara answers: Rabbi Menahem bar Simai. And why did they call him the son of sacred ones? Because he would not look at the forms on coins [zuz].
Many of the coins minted by the Greeks and Romans included images of actual idols, which would, therefore, make them forbidden like any manifestation of avoda zara. It should be noted, however, that the images of Greek and Roman kings that appeared on the coins also were problematic in that the kings often presented themselves as gods - at least to the provincial folk.
Pesaḥim 103a-b: Combining Kiddush with Havdala
04/03/2021 - 20th of Adar, 5781
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As we learned in the last daf, when Yom Tov begins on Saturday night we combine the havdala that ends Shabbat with the Kiddush that begins Yom Tov over a single cup of wine. The discussion on our daf deals with the order of the various berakhot that will make up this combination of Kiddush and havdala. When will the blessing be made over the wine? Over the candle? Over the spices? There are certain basic differences of opinion that form the basis for the variety of opinions that we find regarding this issue. Among the disagreements are the following: Which should be recited first - Kiddush or havdala? What is the relationship between the wine and the mitzva of Kiddush (i.e. does the blessing over the wine come before or after the Kiddush)? When should the blessing over the candle be made? Can it only be made after havdala, or, perhaps, it can be made beforehand? It is the combination of these positions that give us a wide variety of opinions about appropriate behavior in this situation. Rabbi Yehuda explains a disagreement between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel on this subject as relating to the order of the blessings made over the candle and the spices during havdala. According to Beit Shammai we first make the blessing over the candle. According to Beit Hillel we first make the blessing over the spices. One explanation for the different positions is that Beit Shammai believes that one derives benefit from light at the moment that the candle is lit. Furthermore, the sense of sight is more essential and important that the sense of smell. Beit Hillel, on the other hand, perceives the sense of smell to be similar to taste, in that both of them involve a sensation based on a substance entering the body. With this understanding, it makes sense to connect the blessing over the spices (smell) with the blessing over the wine (taste).
Pesaḥim 102a-b: Bundling of Mitzvot
03/03/2021 - 19st of Adar, 5781
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As we have already learned (see Pesahim 100), Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Yose differ on how to deal with a situation where a Friday afternoon meal continues into Shabbat. According to Rabbi Yehuda you must end your meal in order to stop and welcome Shabbat; Rabbi Yose rules that you can continue your meal. The discussion on our daf relates to the cups of wine that must be drunk to close the meal and to welcome the Shabbat. According to the baraita we will need two separate cups of wine, a ruling explained by Rav Nahman bar Yitzhak as stemming from the principle ein osin mitzvot havilot havilot - that we do not perform mitzvot "in bundles." The idea is that every mitzva deserves its own focus, and if we try to perform several mitzvot with the same cup of wine it will be impossible to focus on each mitzva separately. A similar idea is ein me'arvin simha be-simha - that we do not combine two joyous occasions (e.g. to have a wedding during Pesah or Sukkot), because each one deserves its own focus. The Gemara distinguishes between a case where we want to combine Kiddush together with birkat ha-Mazon (Grace after meals), when this rule would apply, and a case where we need to combine Kiddush and havdala (the separation service after Shabbat or Yom Tov), like when one of the holidays (Pesah, Shavu'ot or Sukkot) falls out on Saturday night and we need to make havdala to commemorate the end of Shabbat and Kiddush to usher in the holiday. In such a case, the Gemara rules that it would be appropriate to use one cup for both ceremonies, since Kiddush ve-havdala hada milta he - the ceremonies of Kiddush and havdala are one and the same, while Kiddush and birkat ha-Mazon are two different things. In explanation of this statement, some rishonim argue that Kiddush and havdala are similar in that they introduce a meal, while birkat ha-Mazon ends the meal. Others point out that havdala contains an aspect of Kiddush in that it serves to emphasize the uniqueness of Shabbat in distinguishing between Shabbat and the weekday. Another suggestion that is raised is that, in this case, Kiddush and havdala are actually dependent on one another, since the holiday cannot begin until Shabbat ends. When we announce that Shabbat is over, we effectively welcome the holiday; when we welcome the holiday we are calling for an end to Shabbat. Birkat ha-mazon has no such relationship with Kiddush at all.
Pesaḥim 101a-b: Reciting Friday Night Kiddush in the Synagogue
02/03/2021 - 18st of Adar, 5781
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In the course of the Gemara's discussion of Kiddush, one of the traditions mentioned is that some communities make Kiddush in the synagogue on the eve of Shabbat.
The Gemara asks: ...why do I need to recite kiddush in the synagogue at all, if one does not fulfill his obligation with that kiddush? The Gemara answers: The purpose of kiddush in the synagogue is to fulfill the obligations of the guests who eat and drink and sleep in the synagogue. Since these visitors are staying in the synagogue for Shabbat, they must hear kiddush there.
The rishonim ask how guests could be housed and fed in the synagogue, when the holiness of batei Knesset (synagogues) should forbid such use. Several answers are suggested: The Gemara is referring specifically to synagogues in Bavel (or other places outside of Israel) where the batei Knesset do not have a full level of kedusha. Perhaps the guests were Torah scholars, who are permitted to make use of a synagogue for purposes other than prayer and study because the bet Knesset is considered to be like their home. Some suggest that any poor person or traveler with no place to stay will be granted the status of a Torah scholar with regard to their rules. Finally, it is possible that certain synagogues were originally built on the condition that they could be used for such purposes. In many communities there is still a tradition to make Kiddush on Friday night in the synagogue, even if there are no guests. Whether this is appropriate was a question presented to the Ge'onim. Rav Hai Ga'on ruled that if there are no guests, Kiddush should not be recited. Other Ge'onim argue that Kiddush should be made in the synagogue in any case, either on behalf of those congregants who do not have wine at home, or because there is a spiritual, healing aspect of the synagogue Kiddush beyond the simple obligation to fulfill the mitzva of welcoming the Shabbat around the meal. According to the ruling of the Shulhan Arukh (Orah Hayyim 269:1), if Kiddush is made in the synagogue, the cup should be given to one of the children to drink, since it would be inappropriate to drink the Kiddush wine without eating a meal. In Israel the tradition is that Kiddush is not recited in the bet Knesset.
Pesaḥim 100a-b: Stopping a Meal to Welcome a Holiday
01/03/2021 - 17st of Adar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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One of the first laws taught in this perek deals with eating a meal on erev Pesah. The Mishna rules that a person is not supposed to involve himself in a meal in the afternoon of erev Pesah. The Gemara points out that this rule is true for Shabbat and other holidays, as well. What if a person began the meal when he was permitted to do so, and it extended until it was time for Shabbat or the holiday to begin? Here we find two opinions in a baraita – according to Rabbi Yehuda you must end your meal in order to stop and welcome Shabbat; Rabbi Yose rules that you can continue your meal. Rav Yehuda quotes Shmuel as ruling that we follow neither Rabbi Yehuda nor Rabbi Yose, rather a person in that situation should cover the bread with a cloth, and make Kiddush. The Rashbam is concerned that Shmuel, an amora, cannot disagree with both the tanna'im who have offered halakhic opinions on this matter. He suggests that Shmuel really does accept Rabbi Yose's position, and is merely recommending a stringency – that one should not ignore the arrival of Shabbat and continue eating, rather he should acknowledge Shabbat by introducing Kiddush into the meal. Most of the commentaries explain that covering the bread symbolically ends the Friday afternoon meal allowing a "new" meal to begin with the recitation of Kiddush. After Kiddush the meal – which has now become a Shabbat meal – is resumed. Some of the Ge'onim explain the idea of covering the bread as being connected with the need to make Kiddush over a cup of wine. The Gemara in Berakhot teaches that the blessing over bread always precedes the blessing over wine. Covering the bread allows the blessing over the wine to be made without concern for the rules of precedence, since only the wine is readily available. According to this approach, covering the bread is appropriate not only for our unique case, but for all Shabbat meals. The other reason given for this custom is in commemoration of the Manna, that was covered both above and below by dew (see Shmot16).
Pesaḥim 99a-b: Additional Seder Night Obligations
28/02/2021 - 16st of Adar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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Following several chapters that deal with the Passover sacrifice, the tenth perek of Massekhet Pesahim returns to the holiday itself – specifically to the seder that takes place on the eve of the 15th of Nisan. In fact, early manuscripts of the massekhet have this perek appearing immediately after the discussion of hametz and matza that are the concern of the first four chapters, closing what is referred to as Pesah rishon – the first set of rules of the Passover holiday (the second set of rules being those that deal with the sacrifice). Aside from the basic biblical commandments that make up the seder, such as eating the korban Pesah together with matza and marror, discussing the exodus story, etc., the Sages added other commandments, such as drinking four cups of wine and dining in a manner that befits an honorable, free man. Similarly, we are instructed to behave in a manner that will encourage children to ask their parents about the curious behaviors of the meal, in order to allow for discussion of the exodus from Egypt and its miracles. These issues are the topic of perek Arvei Pesahim, which begins on our daf. The first Mishna in the perek teaches that every person is obligated to drink four cups of wine, even if he needs to accept charity in order to do so. The Rashbam points out the source for this Rabbinic enactment. When God first turns to Moshe and promises to takes the Jewish People out of Egypt, He makes use of four different terms that describe the redemption (see Shmot 6:6-7):
  • Ve-hotzeti – and I will bring them out;
  • Ve-hitzalti – and I will deliver them;
  • Ve-ga'alti – and I will redeem them;
  • Ve-lakahti – and I will take them to me as a people.
The Me'iri explains the unique significance of each term as follows:
  • Ve-hotzeti – I will bring them out from the difficult activities that are forced upon them as slaves.
  • Ve-hitzalti –I will deliver them out of the physical bondage of belonging to a master.
  • Ve-ga'alti – I will redeem them by smiting their enemies and making them free men.
  • Ve-lakahti – I will take them to me as a people by giving them the Torah.
Other reasons for the four cups of wine are mentioned by the Yerushalmi.
Pesaḥim 98a-b: Groups That Have Intermingled
27/02/2021 - 15st of Adar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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he Mishna on our daf discusses the case of a korban Pesah that was misplaced, and while one member of the group goes out and finds it, the rest of the group purchases a replacement.
As a follow-up to this discussion our Gemara talks about two or more groups whose sacrifices become intermingled to the extent that they do not know which animal belongs to whom. The suggestion of the Gemara is to have one person from each group announce his intention to leave the group and join another. Once each of them has agreed to join the other group, both groups makes the following conditional statement to the new member of the group: If this Paschal lamb that is now in our possession is ours, you are withdrawn from the Paschal lamb that was yours, and your are registered for our Paschal lamb and you may eat from it. And if this Paschal lamb is yours, meaning that it actually belongs to the other group, including this individual, we are hereby withdrawn from ours and we are registered for your Paschal lamb, which you agree to share with us.
By doing this, the people of both groups succeed in arranging to sacrifice the animal belonging to the group that they had joined. The Tosafot Ri"d points out that this is not the usual procedure when two sacrifices get mixed up. If two similar korbanot are confused, we usually rule that both should be brought normally and that each one will fulfill the role that it needs to, even if we do not know which korban belongs to which person. The situation is different with a korban Pesah. As noted before, a person must join a group in order to participate in the Passover sacrifice. The korban that will be brought must belong to that group, or else the korban is invalid. It is therefore essential that we ascertain who the animal belongs to. When it is impossible to sort it out we solve the problem by recommending that the exchange described above takes place in order to ensure that the sacrifice is eaten by the group to which it truly belongs.
Pesaḥim 97a-b: When The Lamb Does Not Meet The Criteria
26/02/2021 - 14st of Adar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Torah gives clear parameters for the animal that is to be brought as the korban Pesah. It must be a male that is one year old (see Shmot 12:5). What if an animal is set aside as a korban Pesah and it does not meet those basic criteria?
Mishna: In the case of one who separates a female animal for his Paschal lamb although the Torah requires a male, or a male that is in its second year although a Paschal lamb must be an animal that is in its first year, the animal is left to graze until it develops a blemish and becomes unfit, and it is then sold and its money is used for free-will offerings or peace-offerings.
What is left unclear in the Mishna is what is to be done with the proceeds. The Mishna appears to offer two contradictory rulings. According to the standard text the money should be used for a nedava (a voluntary offering), a Shelamim. Actually there are variant readings of the Mishna. The Jerusalem Talmud reads that the money should be used as a nedava. Many other sources say that the money should be used for a Shelamim, the standard use of a korban Pesah that was not sacrificed. In his commentary to the Mishna, the Rambam explains – like the Yerushalmi – that a korban nedeva should be brought with the money. According to Rashi's reading of the Mishna, the money should be used for a Shelamim. The Rambam in his Mishneh Torah agrees with that ruling, but only under certain circumstances. According to the Rambam, once we realize that this animal cannot be brought as a korban Pesah, we set it out to pasture, hoping that it will develop a mum – a physical blemish that will make it unfit for sacrifice. At that time it can be sold and with the proceeds an animal appropriate for a korban Pesah can be brought. If, however, the animal does not develop a blemish until after that time, a different animal will have to be purchased with other monies, and when this animal develops a blemish a korban Shelamim will be bought with the proceeds.
Pesaḥim 96a-b: The Replacements
25/02/2021 - 13st of Adar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Torah (Vayikra 27:10) teaches the rule of temura – switching animals that are set aside for sacrifices. It is forbidden to switch one animal for another, and if someone does so both animals will become subject to the laws of sacrifices. In the Mishna on our daf, Rabbi Yehoshua reports that he has a tradition that sometimes the temura of a korban Pesah is sacrificed and sometimes it is not, but that he cannot understand the ruling. Rabbi Akiva explains it by comparing it to a korban Pesah that was misplaced and was replaced by another animal. In such a case we distinguish between two cases. 1. When the animal was found before the sacrifice was brought, we perceive the animal as having been actively "pushed aside." At the moment when it could have been sacrificed we chose to sacrifice another instead of it. Therefore it cannot be brought as a Pesah, nor as a Shelamim (we have already learned that a korban Pesah that is not sacrificed can be brought as a Shelamim). We therefore allow it to graze until it develops a physical blemish that will make it unfit for a sacrifice. At that time it can be sold, and the proceeds will be used to purchase a korban Shelamim. 2. When the animal was found after the sacrifice was slaughtered, it can simply be brought as a Shelamim, since we do not see it as being "pushed aside" – it simply was not available for use when the korban Pesah was brought. The same rules would apply to temura. If the second animal was introduced as a replacement before the korban Pesah was slaughtered, both of them were available at the key moment and the one that was not sacrificed as a korban cannot be brought as a Shelamim, either. It will have to be sold (after it develops a blemish) and a different animal purchased with the proceeds. If the second animal was introduced later, it will be brought as a Shelamim. The laws of temura have an entire tractate devoted to them – Massekhet Temura. As noted above, creating a temura is forbidden, yet doing so will create a kedusha on the replacement animal parallel to that of the original korban. In cases where the sacrifice is a nedava – a voluntary offering – this does not present a problem, as both will be brought as sacrifices. In cases such as ours, or, for example, a sin-offering that cannot be brought twice, the only option is to wait until it becomes unfit to bring as a korban, when it can be sold and exchanged for another animal that will be given to the Temple.
Pesaḥim 95a-b: Reciting Hallel on Pesah Sheni
24/02/2021 - 12st of Adar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Torah teaches (see Bamidbar 9:10-14) that someone who was unable to sacrifice the korban Pesah at the proper time because he was ritually defiled or because he was far from Jerusalem, is obligated to come to the Temple one month later, on the 14th of Iyyar and bring a Pesah sheni – a "second Pesah." One of the basic questions associated with this sacrifice is whether it is merely a replacement for the first, or if Pesah sheni is a separate holiday, albeit one that is only obligatory on those people who did not succeed in bringing the sacrifice the first time. The Mishna on our daf teaches that for all that the Torah commands that the same rules apply to the Pesah sheni that applied to the first Pesah, nevertheless there are significant differences between the two. For example, the commandment to rid oneself of hametz before the sacrifice is brought only applies on the regular Pesah, and not on Pesah sheni. Similarly, Hallel is recited while eating the sacrifice on Pesah rishon (first), but not on Pesah sheni. The Mishna mentions other laws that apply to both, like the recitation of Hallel while the korban is being sacrificed, that the meat is eaten roasted together with matza and marror, and that both "push aside" Shabbat should the day that the sacrifice needs to be brought fall on Shabbat. Tosafot point out that the Mishna is only giving examples, and that there are other laws that are unique to Pesah rishon. As a case in point, the Jerusalem Talmud notes that the korban Pesah is accompanied by a korban hagiga (see Pesahim daf 70) only on Pesah rishon and not on Pesah sheni.
The Gemara asks: What is the reason that hallel must be recited while one prepares the Paschal lamb on the second Pesah? The Gemara answers...if you wish, say that this halakha simply makes logical sense: Is it possible that the Jewish people are slaughtering their Paschal lambs or taking their lulavim on Sukkot and not reciting hallel? It is inconceivable that they would not be reciting hallel and there is no need for an explicit biblical source for this halakha.
This argument, which can be applied to every one of the Jewish holidays, indicates that the tradition of reciting Hallel is an ancient one. Nevertheless, once we establish the centrality of the recitation of Hallel to the celebration of the holidays, why is it not said while the korban Pesah is eaten on Pesah sheni? One answer that is suggested points to the fact that Hallel is usually recited only during the day, and we need a special pasuk to introduce the idea of reciting it at night on Pesah. The passage brought by the Gemara to suggest saying Hallel at night appears in Yeshayahu (30:29) "the song should be for you as the night of the celebration of the holiday" which is understood to teach that a song – the Hallel – is appropriate only when there is a holiday being celebrated. For all the importance of Pesah sheni, it is not a Yom Tov, as work is permitted, etc.
Pesaḥim 94a-b: The crossing of the Sun
23/02/2021 - 11st of Adar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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A large part of this daf is devoted to discussions between the Sages about time and distance, and their relationship with the length of day and night. According to the description in the Gemara, the way the sun appears crossing the sky during the day is due to a physical pathway that exists across the sky. The raki'a – the sky, or "firmament" (see Bereshit 1:6-8) is a half circle above the ground reaching into the sky. The sun travels at the height of the raki'a or below it from east to west (from A to B in the linked diagram). Darkness takes place when the sun enters a halon – a "window" in the raki'a, where it cannot be seen until it comes out of the halon the next morning. The Gemara attempts to establish the "size" of the world based on an estimation of the distance a person can walk in a single day and a comparison between that and the distance the sun travels during daylight hours. Already in the period of the Ge'onim (prior to the tenth century CE) the commentaries taught that these discussions in the Gemara are neither halakha, nor are they essential Jewish belief, as they are based on a particular perspective on the natural world that was considered scientific knowledge at that time. The Ge'onim further note, that since Jewish scholars have embraced the positions of the scientific world with regard to these types of questions, the discussion and descriptions that appear in our Gemara are not to be understood as literal truth. It is important to note that at least some of the discussion here does not really relate to the physical world in which we live; rather it refers to a spiritual and perhaps mystical world. As such it should be noted that the Sages of the Talmud talk about gan eden – the Garden of Eden – and gehenom – Hell – as if they should be measured within the precincts of our physical world, even as it is clear that they exist in a different realm of reality.