Talmud

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

Shabbat 90a-b: Is Shabbat Carrying Objective or Subjective?
04/06/2020 - 12th of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The tenth perek begins on today’s daf, and, like the previous ones, discusses the category of creative labor [melakha] known as carrying out. However, its primary focus is to clarify one aspect of this category. Until this point, the discussions have focused on the volume of the object being carried out. In other words, what is the volume necessary for an object to be considered significant? Only a significant object renders its carrier liable for this labor. This chapter, however, deals with the manner in which the carrying is performed. Under which conditions are the actions involved in the carrying considered to have been performed in a standard and customary manner, so that the act qualifies as bona fide carrying, and under which conditions is the act done in what is considered an unusual manner, so that the person is not liable for bona fide carrying? Furthermore, if the carrying is performed by means of a vessel or utensil, what are the halakhic issues that then come into play? Do we assess the action in terms of the essence of what is being carried, i.e., the object in the vessel, or is the vessel itself also of import? For example, how do we assess the action if the vessel contains a measure of the object that is less than the minimum amount required for the person to be judged liable for carrying? To give another example, how do we assess the action if the vessel itself has been only partially removed from its domain, but the entire contents of the vessel are already in the other domain? Do we determine liability based on the container or based on the object contained? The first Mishna of the perek teaches:
One who stores a seed for sowing, or as a sample, or for medicinal purposes and carried it out on Shabbat is liable for carrying out any amount. And any other person is only liable for carrying it out on Shabbat if he carries out its measure for liability.
By storing that measure, he indicates that it is significant to him. Therefore, he is liable for carrying it, despite the fact that what he carried out is less than the halakhic measure that determines liability for that item.
Shabbat 89a-b: Why is the Mountain Called "Sinai"?
03/06/2020 - 11th of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In the course of discussing how the Children of Israel received the Torah on Mount Sinai, the Gemara cites additional homiletic interpretations on the topic of the revelation at Sinai.
One of the Sages said to Rav Kahana: Did you hear what is the reason that the mountain was called Mount Sinai? Rav Kahana said to him: It is because it is a mountain upon which miracles [nissim] were performed for the Jewish people. The Sage said to him: If so, it should have been called Mount Nisai, the mountain of miracles. Rather, Rav Kahana said to him: It is a mountain that was a good omen [siman] for the Jewish people. The Sage said to him: If so, it should have been called Har Simanai, the mountain of omens. Rav Kahana said to him: What is the reason that you do not frequent the school where you can study before Rav Pappa and Rav Huna, son of Rav Yehoshua, who study aggada? As Rav Ĥisda and Rabba, son of Rav Huna, both said: What is the reason it is called Mount Sinai? It is because it is a mountain upon which hatred [sina] for the nations of the world descended because they did not accept the Torah.
Some commentaries explain that the nations of the world began hating the Jewish people when the Torah was given at Sinai. A different version of this statement, which appears in some collections of the midrash, supports this explanation. From the moment they received the Torah, the Jewish people became isolated. Still, most sources explain this differently, as indicating that hatred descended among the nations of the world. The revelation at Sinai introduced compulsory faith to the world, as well as the concept of a correct and incorrect way to serve God. This became a bone of contention between the nations of the world.
Shabbat 88a-b: Are We Obligated to Keep the Torah?
02/06/2020 - 10th of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In the course of discussing how the Children of Israel received the Torah on Mount Sinai, the Gemara cites additional homiletic interpretations on the topic of the revelation at Sinai.
The Torah says, “And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet God; and they stood at the lowermost part of the mount” (Shemot 19:17). Rabbi Avdimi bar Ĥama bar Ĥasa said: the Jewish people actually stood beneath the mountain, and the verse teaches that the Holy One, Blessed be He, overturned the mountain above the Jews like a tub, and said to them: If you accept the Torah, excellent, and if not, there will be your burial. Rav Aha bar Ya’akov said: From here there is a substantial caveat to the obligation to fulfill the Torah. The Jewish people can claim that they were coerced into accepting the Torah, and it is therefore not binding. Rava said: Even so, they again accepted it willingly in the time of Ahasuerus, as it is written: “The Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them” (Esther 9:27), and he taught: The Jews ordained what they had already taken upon themselves through coercion at Sinai.
The Rashba challenged Rav Aha bar Ya’akov’s argument that the Jewish people can argue that they were forced to accept the Torah against their will. If this is the case, why were the Jewish people punished and exiled from their land for having violated the Torah? He explains that certainly the Jews’ continued existence in Eretz Yisrael is contingent on their fulfillment of the Torah’s commandments. In other words, it is explained that holding the uprooted mountain like a tub over their heads alludes to the abundance of love that God bestowed upon the Jewish people during the Exodus, in giving them the manna, etc. In response, the people said: “We will do, and we will hear.” Still, in their hearts the people did not accept the Torah on behalf of later generations, for whom life would proceed naturally, without the revelation of constant miracles.
Shabbat 87a-b: Smashing the Tablets
01/06/2020 - 9th of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we learned on yesterday’s daf Moshe added a day of preparation prior to the giving of the Torah. The baraita that teaches this adds two other things that Moshe did on his own.
Moshe did three things based on his own perception, and the Holy One, Blessed be He, agreed with him. He added one day to the days of separation before the revelation at Sinai based on his own perception. And he totally separated from his wife after the revelation at Sinai. And he broke the tablets following the sin of the Golden Calf.
The Gemara explains how Moshe could have broken the Tablets as follows:
And he broke the tablets following the sin of the Golden Calf. What source did he interpret that led him to do so? Moses said: With regard to the Paschal lamb, which is only one of six hundred and thirteen mitzvot, the Torah stated: “And the Lord said unto Moses and Aaron: This is the ordinance of the Paschal offering; no alien shall eat of it” (Shemot 12:43), referring not only to gentiles, but to apostate Jews as well. Regarding the tablets, which represented the entire Torah, and Israel at that moment were apostates, as they were worshipping the calf, all the more so are they not worthy of receiving the Torah. And from where do we derive that the Holy One, Blessed be He, agreed with his reasoning? As it is stated: “The first tablets which you broke [asher shibarta]” (Shemot 34:1), and Reish Lakish said: The word asher is an allusion to the phrase: May your strength be true [yishar koĥakha] due to the fact that you broke the tablets.
The proof from the words, “which you broke” is merely a support for the conclusion but not an absolute proof. There are several instances in the Bible where the word asher is not interpreted as approval. Some commentaries explain that the conclusion that God agreed with Moses is drawn from the fact that God mentioned the breaking of the Tablets without anger (Rashi). Alternatively, God’s agreement can be ascertained from His later command that Moses store the broken Tablets in the Ark. He would not have commanded Moses to do so had they been associated with an infraction that incurred God’s disapproval (Rashbam).
Shabbat 86a-b: On What Day Was The Torah Given?
31/05/2020 - 8th of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
According to tradition, we commemorate receiving the Torah on the holiday of Shavu’ot, which falls on the sixth day of the month of Sivan. In fact, there is a dispute in the Gemara regarding the day that the Torah was given.
On the sixth day of the month of Sivan, the Ten Commandments were given to the Jewish people. Rabbi Yosei says: On the seventh day of the month. Rava said: Everyone agrees that the Jews came to the Sinai desert on the New Moon, as it is written here: “In the third month after the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai” (Shemot 19:1), without elaborating what day it was. And it is written there: “This month shall be to you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you” (Shemot 12:2). Just as there, the term “this” is referring to the New Moon, so too, here the term is referring to the New Moon.
The word ĥodesh is understood throughout the Bible to mean month. Occasionally, it is a reference to the New Moon. Examples include: “Tomorrow is the ĥodesh” (I Samuel 20:18); “Its holiday, its ĥodesh, its Shabbat” (Hoshea 2:13); and “The burnt-offering of the ĥodesh and its meal-offering” (Bamidbar 29:6). Therefore, the verse: “This ĥodesh shall be unto you the beginning of months” is understood as indicating that this New Moon is the first New Moon that the Jewish people are celebrating. In the verse describing their arrival in the desert, it is unclear whether ĥodesh refers to the month or the New Moon. It states: “In the third ĥodesh after the children of Israel went forth out of the land of Egypt” (Shemot 19:1). The emphasis on the words at the end of the verse, “on this day,” proves that it is referring to the day of the New Moon. The Gemara continues:
And similarly, everyone agrees that the Torah was given to the Jewish people on Shabbat, as it is written here in the Ten Commandments: “Remember the Shabbat day to keep it holy” (Shemot 20:7), and it is written there: “And Moses said to the people: Remember this day, in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage, for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out from this place; there shall be no leaven eaten” (Shemot 13:3). Just as there, the mitzva of remembrance was commanded on the very day of the Exodus, so too, here the mitzva of remembrance was commanded on the very day of Shabbat. Where Rabbi Yosei and the Sages disagree is with regard to the determination of the month, meaning which day of the week was established as the New Moon. Rabbi Yosei held: The New Moon was established on the first day of the week, and on the first day of the week He did not say anything to them due to the weariness caused by the journey. On the second day of the week, He said to them: “And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation; these are the words that you shall speak to the children of Israel” (Shemot 19:6).
The Gemara concludes that according to Rabbi Yosei, Moshe, on his own accord, added an extra day of separation prior to the giving of the Torah. Thus, according to Rabbi Yosei, the Torah was given only on the seventh day of Sivan.
Shabbat 85a-b: Sowing Diverse Plants in a Garden – II
30/05/2020 - 7th of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
On today’s daf the Gemara continues with its discussion of planting diverse crops in a single garden, which posed the problem of kilayim – the prohibition against mixing seeds.
Rav Asi said: The garden bed in the Mishna whose area is six by six handbreadths is one whose internal area is six by six handbreadths excluding the area of its boundaries, which must be added to the total area. That was also taught in a baraita: The internal area of a garden bed is six by six handbreadths. The Gemara asks: How much is the size of its boundaries?The Gemara answers, as we learned in a mishna that Rabbi Yehuda says: The width of the border is like the width of a foot. And Rabbi Zeira said, and some say it was Rabbi Hanina bar Pappa who said: What is the reason for the statement of Rabbi Yehuda? As it is written: “And you water it with your foot like a garden of herbs” (Devarim 11:10), meaning that just as one’s foot is a handbreadth wide, so too, the boundary between garden beds where one walks to water plants is also a handbreadth wide.
Some commentaries suggest that the purpose of determining the size of a garden bed’s boundaries was to determine how much space must be left between the garden beds, to avoid prohibited mixtures of diverse kinds of seeds (Me’iri). In the Mishna in tractate Kilayim, there is a suggestion that one could plant on the boundary itself, necessitating the determination of its size. As for the halakha, some authorities rule that the boundary of a garden bed must be one handbreadth wide (Tosafot) with an additional two handbreadths between garden beds. Others state that a single handbreadth between garden beds is sufficient (Me’iri). There were alternative suggestions on how to best plant suggested by the amora’im.
Rav Kahana said that Rabbi Yoĥanan said: One who wishes to fill his entire garden with vegetables and does not want to distance the rows of seeds from one another may make a garden bed that is six by six handbreadths and make five circles inside it. He plants different species in the different circles and fills its corners with whatever additional species that he wants.
This explanation follows the opinions of the ge’onim and the Rambam. Rashi and Tosafot offer alternative explanations. The Me’iri explains this case like the ge’onim but with a slight difference. According to the Rambam, one is not restricted to five species but can plant up to nine: Five kinds of plants in each of the circles and another four in the corners. The Ra’avad, however, explains that one is permitted to make five rows of five circles, each with a diameter of one handbreadth, along the length of the garden bed, for a total of twenty-five circles in the garden bed.
Shabbat 84a-b: Sowing Diverse Plants in a Garden, Part I
29/05/2020 - 6th of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna continues to discuss an additional halakha based on a biblical allusion:
From where is it derived that in a garden bed that is six by six handbreadths, that one may plant five different types of seeds in it? He may do so without violating the prohibition of sowing a mixture of diverse kinds of seeds in the following manner. One sows four types of plants on each of the four sides of the garden bed and one in the middle. There is an allusion to this in the text, as it is stated: “For as the earth brings forth its growth, and as a garden causes its seeds to grow, so will the Lord God cause justice and praise to spring forth before all the nations” (Yeshayahu 61:11). Its seed, in the singular, is not stated; rather, its seeds, written in the plural. Apparently, it is possible that several seeds may be planted in a small garden.
The discussion of this Mishna is not particularly clear. As a result, there are many divergent opinions among the commentaries. The fundamental problem is that with no diagrams accompanying the Mishna or Gemara, it is difficult to understand precisely what each is describing and to cite proof from the Talmud for or against any of the proposed explanations. There is also a dispute in terms of the content of this passage. On one extreme is the opinion that at least three handbreadths must separate the different species of plants. This opinion is cited by Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam in Sefer HaYashar. At the other extreme is the opinion that the various species do not need to be distanced from one another. The fundamental requirement is to prevent seeds from intermingling and each species must be easily discernible from the others. An intermediate approach holds that a handbreadth and a half distance must separate the plants on each side (Rashi and Tosafot). Others say that it is necessary to maintain that distance only on certain sides. According to Rabbeinu Shimshon of Saens, one must plant the species so that each row of plants is at least a handbreadth and one-tenth from the edge of the garden bed, ensuring that there will be a distance of a handbreadth and a half between each set of plants on all sides. Some ge’onim explain that a distance of one handbreadth between the various species is sufficient. Others explain that there is no need to keep a distance between them and it is sufficient to plant the seeds on different sides and in different patterns (see Melekhet Shlomo and Tiferet Yisrael). Some of the differing opinions of how to lay out the garden bed include those of Rabbenu Hananel and Meiri , the Rosh , the Ge’onim , the Ramban and the Tiferet Yisrael.
Shabbat 83a-b: Deriving the Status of a Ship Regarding Ritual Purity
28/05/2020 - 5th of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we learned on yesterday’s daf the eighth perek of Massekhet Shabbat digresses from the central topic of this tractate, turning its attention to the fundamental question: How do we know…? The Mishna on today’s daf illustrates this type of question-and-answer when it teaches:
From where is it derived that a ship is ritually pure, in the sense that it cannot become impure? As it is stated: “The way of a ship in the midst of the sea” (Mishlei 30:19).
The Gemara explains this teaching as follows:
This verse teaches us by mean of an allusion that the legal status of a boat is like that of the sea. Just as the sea is ritually pure and cannot become impure, so too, a boat is ritually pure and cannot become impure.
The verse in Mishlei states: “There are three things which are too wondrous for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air, the way of a serpent upon a rock, the way of a ship in the midst of the sea, and the way of a man with a young woman” (Mishlei 30:18–19). If the verse is understood at face value, what is so wondrous about the way of a ship? Therefore, according to some commentaries, the Gemara derives a new halakha from this verse. Even if a ship is made of materials susceptible to ritual impurity, it remains pure, if it is in the midst of the sea. Other commentaries suggest that all of the wonders cited in this verse should be understood along the same lines. A snake causes death, but unlike other creeping animals, it does not transmit impurity when it dies. An eagle is a non-kosher bird but its legal status is like that of a kosher bird, which does not transmit impurity when eaten. The way of a man with a young woman means that a seminal emission is only impure after it has been discharged by the woman, as explained later in this chapter (Me’iri).
Shabbat 82a-b: An Unrelated New Chapter in Massekhet Shabbat
27/05/2020 - 4th of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The eighth perek of Massekhet Shabbat is comprised mostly of halakot that are not directly related to the laws of Shabbat. They are placed together because of their conceptual similarities and common structure. The halakot are all presented as answers to the fundamental question: How do we know…? In response to this question, proof texts from a variety of biblical sources are advanced. In this way, these halakot are linked to the final Mishna of the previous chapter, which shares a similar format. This mode of presentation involves sequentially arranging halakot based on superficial, structural parallels rather than by a common theme or topic. This method of organization results in halakot that are not at all related in terms of subject matter being strung together into a single series because of their verbal structure. The decision to arrange the text in this way is attributable to the fact that, for many centuries, the Oral Torah was transmitted from mouth to mouth, from master to disciple. Even after the redaction of the Mishna, Torah scholars continued to study it by heart. It was therefore necessary to provide mnemonic devices and other helpful tools to facilitate the memorization of the study material, and these methods are frequently integrated into the text of the Mishna and the Talmud. In addition to the organization of material based on structure and form, the asmakhta is another technique that served as an aid to memorization. Asmakhta means the attribution of a halakha from the Oral Law to verses in the Written Law, despite the fact that in many instances those verses are not, in fact, the basis of that halakha. In addition to being an aid to memorization, this use of texts had another purpose, namely, to reinforce the bond and relationship between the Written Torah and the Oral Torah, so that they not become separate entities. Indeed, the major commentaries often disagree as to whether the Sages viewed these biblical verses as proof texts, rigorous proofs, or merely suggestive hints. Certainly, the verses taken from the Prophets and Writings should be understood as mere suggestive hints and are no more than aids to memory.
Shabbat 81a-b: Shabbat Outhouse Issues
26/05/2020 - 3rd of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
During Talmudic times there were very few places where bathrooms were actually indoors, and toilet paper was unheard of. In most places, people relieved themselves in empty lots, e.g., the municipal garbage dump. At night, it was possible to find a closer place for that purpose. However, during the day, because of numerous passersby, one was forced to find a spot that was a considerable distance beyond the city limits. As a substitute for toilet paper, smooth stones were used. On Shabbat, these stones had to be prepared in advance. The Gemara on today’s daf discusses how people would arrange to carry these stones to the open area where one was to relieve himself on Shabbat. The Gemara teaches:
With regard to the size of stones, Rabbi Yannai said: If he has a fixed place for a bathroom, he may take a handful of stones; if he does not need them on Shabbat, he can use them on another occasion. If he does not have a fixed place he may bring in an average size stone, which is the size of a small mortar used for crushing spices. Rav Sheshet said: If the stone has an indication on it that it has already been used in the bathroom, one is permitted to move it for that purpose on Shabbat, regardless of its size.
Due to human dignity, the Rabbis permitted people to carry stones to a bathroom on Shabbat to use for wiping. One may also carry them up to the roof. If an individual has a fixed spot that he uses as a bathroom, he may take a handful of stones there. If he does not have a fixed spot, he may take stones the size of a small mortar there. The Sages decided not to set a fixed measure for the size of the stones. The Sages generally did not insist on the fulfillment of their decrees at the expense of human dignity. The only Torah prohibition that is superseded to preserve human dignity is the prohibition against deviating from the decrees and ordinances of the Sages: “You shall not turn aside” (Devarim 17:11).
Shabbat 80a-b: Plastering Homes After the Temple’s Destruction
25/05/2020 - 2nd of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Due to mourning over the destruction of Jerusalem, the Sages decreed that it is prohibited for one to plaster his entire house with quality plaster. When plastering, one must leave a spot the size of a square cubit unplastered to commemorate the destruction of the Temple. In the course of discussing the volume of sand that would make someone liable for carrying on Shabbat, the Sages dispute which lime may not be used. The Gemara teaches:
The measure that determines liability for carrying out coarse sand is equivalent to that which is used to place on a full spoon of plaster. We learned in the Mishna: The measure that determines liability for carrying out coarse sand is equivalent to that which is used to place on a full spoon of plaster. A tanna taught in a Tosefta: An amount equivalent to that which is placed on the opening of a plasterer’s trowel, and not on a spoon used for eating. The Gemara asks: Who is the tanna who holds that sand is beneficial for plaster and is, therefore, mixed with it? Rav Ĥisda said: It is Rabbi Yehuda, as it was taught in a baraita: In mourning the destruction of the Temple, one may not plaster his house with plaster, which is white, unless he mixed straw or sand in it, which will make the color off -white and less attractive. Rabbi Yehuda says: Straw is permitted, but sand is prohibited because when mixed with plaster it forms white cement [teraksid]. Apparently, Rabbi Yehuda holds that sand is typically mixed with plaster. Rava said: Even if you say that our Mishna is in accordance with the opinion of the Rabbis who disagree with Rabbi Yehuda, we can say that its ruination is its improvement.
Even though the Rabbis hold that mixing sand with plaster is not beneficial, since following the destruction of the Temple only partially ruined plaster may be used, adding sand to plaster enables its use.
Shabbat 79a-b: Different Types of Parchment
24/05/2020 - 1st of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
According to the Mishna, the measure that determines liability for carrying out parchment is equivalent to that which is used to write the shortest portion in the phylacteries. On today’s daf the Gemara discusses the status of parchment in contrast with another type of treated animal hide, which is called dokhsostos. In the Talmudic era, the process of tanning hides for making parchment was very sophisticated. The desire to make optimal use of the hide and the goal of minimizing the thickness of books led to the manufacture of parchment that was especially thin. For that reason, the hide would be split. The parchment, the upper, more durable layer of the hide on which the hair grows, is called kelaf because they peeled away [kalfu] its inner layer. The less durable inner layer that faces the flesh is called dokhsostos. The Rambam explains this differently than do most commentaries. In his opinion, dokhsostos is the upper part of the hide on which the animal’s hair grows, while parchment is the lower side. According to the Rambam, the Gemara’s comments on this issue define parchment as the part on the side of the flesh, while dokhsostos is the part on the side of the hair. However, the Gemara says nothing with regard to which side is used for writing (see Me’iri). Other commentaries hold that writing on both parchment and dokhsostos is done on the side where the two layers were attached and were separated from each other. They cite a verse as an allusion to that halakha, as it is written: “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing” (Mishlei 25:2). The Torah is written on the concealed part of the hide. In practical legal terms, the difference between parchment and dokhsostos is based on the manner in which they are used. In order for the passages in the phylacteries to fit into their compartments, they must be as small and thin as possible. Therefore, they are written on thin parchment. Other texts, e.g., a mezuza, can be written on the less malleable dokhsostos (Me’iri).
Shabbat 78a-b: Paying (and Avoiding) Taxes
23/05/2020 - 29th of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Mishna on today's daf teaches:
The measure that determines liability for carrying out paper is equivalent to that which is used to write a tax receipt. And one who carries out a tax receipt itself on Shabbat is liable.
In ancient times, a significant portion of state revenue came from tariffs, which were typically levied at borders, crossings, bridges, and major thoroughfares. For many years, central authorities leased the right to collect state taxes to individuals. These tax collectors often raised taxes beyond the official rate of taxation or levied taxes on items that were actually exempt from taxes to increase their own revenues. There were even self-appointed tax collectors whose authority ranged from semiofficial to non-existent. Due to the irregularities with regard to taxes, some people made private arrangements with the collectors. Through fixed payments or due to good personal relations, they received exemptions from taxes. A tax receipt was a kind of certificate stating that a tax collector had exempted a merchant or traveler from paying a tax. Since these exemptions were distributed on a personal basis, they were occasionally used to demonstrate to a different tax collector that the bearer was trusted by the tax authorities, in the hope of gaining consideration with regard to his taxes. Thus, we find the following in the Gemara:
The Sages taught in a Tosefta: One who carries out a tax receipt on Shabbat before he has shown it to the tax collector, and he still needs it, is liable for carrying out on Shabbat. Once he has shown it to the tax collector he is exempt, as it has no significance. Rabbi Yehuda says: Even once he has shown it to the tax collector he is liable because there will be a time when he needs it.
Three different suggestions are raised by amora'im in response to the Gemara's question: What is the difference between the opinions of the Sages and Rav Yehuda?
Abayye said: There is a practical difference between their opinions with regard to tax runners. Occasionally, the tax collectors send inspectors after those who already passed the tax audit in order to verify that they indeed paid. In that case, even though one already showed it to the original tax collector, he will be required to produce it again. Rava said: There is a practical difference between their opinions with regard to a senior tax collector and a junior tax collector.
Sometimes, when the first tax collector that one encounters is a minor official, he will need to keep the receipt with him and produce it if he encounters a more senior official.
Rav Ashi said: There is a difference between them even in a case where there is just one tax collector. Nevertheless, it is to his advantage to keep it in his possession because he needs it to show it to a second tax collector whom he may encounter in the future, as he says to him: Look, I am a man trusted by the tax collector. According to this opinion, the document in his possession proves that he is on good terms with the tax authorities.
Shabbat 77a-b: When Smaller Creatures Strike Fear in Larger Ones
22/05/2020 - 28th of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In a segue from the main discussion in the Gemara, a baraita is presented that teaches:
There are five dreads, i.e., dread that the weak cast over the mighty: The dread of the mafgia, a small creature, over the lion; the dread of the mosquito over the elephant; the dread of the gecko over the scorpion; the dread of the swallow over the eagle; the dread of the kilbit, a small fish, over a whale.
The difficulty in understanding this teaching stems from the uncertain identification of most of the creatures mentioned. It is clear that the dread of the mosquito over the elephant refers to the many small mosquitoes that sting the elephant’s trunk and the other soft areas of its body. The dread of the swallow over the eagle comes from the known fact that many small birds can successfully chase away a large bird of prey when they are numerically superior and in particular when they are protecting their young. The identity of the semamit mentioned here has not been firmly established. A long-standing tradition associates the semamit with the spider, and there are indeed species of spiders that prey on scorpions. Nowadays, the name semamit is used for a type of lizard, which might be capable of overpowering a scorpion. The dread of the kilbit over the livyatan is doubly difficult because of the uncertainty in identifying both terms. Many believe that the livyatan is a giant ocean-dwelling mammal from the Cetacea family. However, there are several smaller fish, such as sharks, that are capable of killing it, and especially its young. Some authorities believe that the livyatan referred to here is the crocodile, and the kilbit is a kind of mosquito that stings it. There is also an opinion that the mafgia, the scourge of the lion, is a tiny mosquito. Regarding the dread of the mafgia over the lion, this may be a reference to a creature in the Far East from the Mustelidae family known as the zorilla, or striped polecat, which emits a powerful stench. Other animals are wary of any contact with it. It is not uncommon for an entire pack of lions to wait while this creature partakes of prey brought by the lions. According to the Maharsha, this discussion teaches a moral lesson that even those who take pride in their advantages must be aware that those smaller can be sources of significant harm or benefit.
Shabbat 76a-b: Determining Minimum Measures That Are Considered "Carrying" on Shabbat
21/05/2020 - 27th of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In Chapter Seven, the fundamental principles used to define the minimum measures that determine liability for carrying out various substances were established. One who carries out any item "fit to store" into a prohibited domain on Shabbat is liable to bring a sin-offering for that action. An item considered "fit to store" is one that people generally store and one whose measure is large enough to make it worthwhile to store for future use. Any measure less than that is considered insignificant, and there is no Torah prohibition against carrying it out. This principle determines the minimum measures that determine liability for carrying out on Shabbat; however, it does not specify the measures with regard to each and every substance. In the eighth chapter, which begins on today's daf the Sages specified that which is considered a significant measure with regard to a wide range of substances. The challenge here is not merely to establish minimum measures for the various substances, but it extends to more fundamental issues. For example, with regard to substances that have several uses, and a different measure is typically utilized for each of its uses, the question arises whether one universal measure determines liability for carrying out this substance, or whether the measure that determines liability varies in accordance with the purpose for which the substance is being carried out. Moreover, even if one universal measure determines liability for carrying out a particular substance in all cases, is that measure determined by the substance’s most common and significant use or by the largest or smallest of the measures? In addition, the measure that determines liability for substances that have no independent utility but serve a purpose when combined with other substances is discussed. Is the measure of that substance alone deemed significant because that is the measure typically mixed with another substance, or would one be liable only for carrying out the entire mixture? The explication of these general issues and their details is the focus of this chapter.
Shabbat 75a-b: Trapping the Mysterious Hilazon
20/05/2020 - 26th of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Mishna (daf 73 listed 39 primary categories of prohibited labor on Shabbat. On yesterday's daf we learned that an individual can be liable for performing more than one of these prohibitions in the course of a single activity. According to the Mishna, among those liable for performing primary categories of labor is one who traps a deer or any other living creature. The liability in this category is discussed on today's daf:
The Sages taught in a Tosefta: One who traps a ĥilazon and breaks its shell to remove its blood for the dye is liable to bring only one sin-offering. He is not liable for breaking the shell. Rabbi Yehuda says: He is liable to bring two, for performing the prohibited labors of trapping and for threshing, as Rabbi Yehuda would say: The breaking of a ĥilazon is included in the primary category of threshing, as its objective is to extract the matter that he desires from the shell that he does not. The Rabbis said to him: Breaking the shell is not included in the primary category of threshing. Rava said: What is the rationale for the opinion of the Rabbis? They hold: Threshing applies only to produce that grows from the ground. One who extracts other materials from their covering is exempt. The Gemara asks: Even if extracting blood is not considered threshing, let him be liable for taking a life as well. Rabbi Yoĥanan said: This is referring to a case where he broke its shell after it was dead.
There are numerous opinions with regard to the identity of the ĥilazon, from which the sky blue dye is extracted. There is also a dispute as to how to associate the statements in the Talmud and the midrash with a particular species. Most scholars identify the ĥilazon with the Murex trunculus species found on the coast of northern Israel. There is a gland in the ĥilazon that produces a secretion, which is not the blood of the ĥilazon. With the addition of several other ingredients, this secretion can be processed into a dye. Both the quality and quantity of the substance are enhanced by keeping the ĥilazon alive as long as possible. To obtain the liquid, it is necessary to first break the shell of the ĥilazon and then squeeze the secretion from its body.
Shabbat 74a-b: Counting up Sin-Offerings
19/05/2020 - 25th of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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As we learned on yesterday's daf there are 39 primary categories of labor that are prohibited on Shabbat. Each one of these types of work is forbidden in its own right, and will require a separate sin-offering if performed unwittingly. On today's daf the amora'im discuss the fact that producing a single object may involve several of the prohibited labors and would require multiple sin-offerings.
Rava said: One who unwittingly crafted an earthenware barrel on Shabbat is liable to bring seven sin-offerings. One who crafts an oven is liable for eight sin-offerings, since in addition to those seven labors, he spreads another layer of mortar to finish the job, performing the prohibited labor of smoothing.
In one of the commentaries, the seven sin-offerings are counted as follows:
  1. Removing piles of dirt and thereby leveling the ground, which is a subcategory of
  2. plowing; Powdering the dirt, which is a subcategory of grinding;
  3. Removing the pebbles, which is a subcategory of selecting;
  4. kneading the dirt;
  5. cutting it into its shape;
  6. building;
  7. and completing the finished product, which the Mishna calls (7) striking a blow with a hammer (Rav Hai Gaon).
Others suggest a different tally:
  1. Crumbling the dirt;
  2. selecting the pebbles;
  3. sifting with a sieve;
  4. kneading;
  5. mixing the dirt with water, which is a subcategory of smoothing the vessel;
  6. kindling the fire; and
  7. hardening a vessel, which is a subcategory of cooking (Me’iri).
With regard to an oven, according to Rav Hai Gaon, the eighth labor is smoothing, and according to the Me’iri, it is striking a blow with a hammer.
Abayye said: One who unwittingly crafts a receptacle from reeds on Shabbat is liable to bring eleven sin-offerings. And if he sews the mouth of the receptacle, he is liable to bring thirteen sin-offerings.
Some count the eleven sin-offerings as follows:
  1. Reaping;
  2. sowing;
  3. gathering;
  4. grinding;
  5. cutting;
  6. peeling the reeds, which is threshing;
  7. selecting;
  8. stretching the warp;
  9. constructing two meshes;
  10. building; and
  11. striking a blow with a hammer (Rav Hai Gaon).
Others claim that peeling the reeds renders one liable for striking a blow with a hammer (ge’onim). In a case where he sewed the mouth of the receptacle, Rav Hai Gaon argues that one is liable for (12) spinning and (13) sewing.
Shabbat 73a-b: The 39 Categories of Labor Prohibited on Shabbat
18/05/2020 - 24th of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna on today's daf enumerates the 39 primary categories of labor that are prohibited on Shabbat. These categories of labor are grouped according to their function, the first of which is the production of food (beginning with planting and harvesting through baking), the next preparation of clothing (beginning with shearing wool through sewing) and so forth. The Gemara explains that the source for these specific categories of labor is derived from important activities that were performed in the Mishkan since the passage in the Torah that prohibits labor on Shabbat is juxtaposed with the building of the Mishkan (see Shemot Chapters 31 and 35). According to the explanation in Rashi and Tosafot, when the Sages speak of the labors performed in the Tabernacle as the source of Shabbat laws, they are referring only to those labors involved in the construction of the Tabernacle. Therefore, they explain that the labors of plowing and sowing were necessary to grow herbs for producing dyes required in the Tabernacle. However, according to Rabbeinu Hananel and Rav Hai Ga'on, the relevant actions performed in the Tabernacle include those performed in preparing the sacrifices required in the dedication of the Tabernacle, e.g., plowing and sowing to grow wheat and barley for meal-offerings (Eglei Tal). The primary categories of labor enumerated in the Mishna are a list of actions categorized according to certain criteria, as will be explained; however, the names of the labors do not express their essential nature. Consequently, it was necessary to add a list of subcategories that clarify the full range of actions prohibited under the rubric of each labor. In the Jerusalem Talmud, it is related that Rabbi Yohanan and Reish Lakish studied this chapter for three and a half years and found thirty-nine subcategories for each primary category of labor listed in the Mishna.
Shabbat 72a-b: Unintended Consequences on Shabbat
17/05/2020 - 23rd of Iyyar, 5780
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The Gemara teaches:
One who intended to lift a plant detached from the ground on Shabbat and mistakenly severed a plant still attached to the ground, which under other circumstances constitutes performance of the prohibited labor of reaping, is exempt from bringing a sin-offering for his mistaken act, since he did not intend to perform an act of cutting [be-shogeg]. One who performs an action unawares [mitasek], i.e., he had no intention to perform the act at all, incurs no liability whatsoever. One who intended to cut a detached plant and unwittingly severed a plant still attached to the ground, Rava said: He too is exempt. Abayye said that he is liable because he intended to perform a standard act of cutting. Since he intended to perform that act, and he carried out his intent, the Torah characterizes it as unwitting and not as unawares. Rava explains that the source of his ruling stems from a baraita that teaches that a stricture with regard to other mitzvot that is greater than the stricture with regard to Shabbat is that, with regard to other mitzvot, one who performs an act unwittingly without intent is liable to bring a sin-offering, which is not the case with regard to Shabbat.
Apparently, the phrase unwittingly without intent refers to the case above disputed by Abayye and Rava. Therefore, this is proof for Rava’s opinion that, with regard to Shabbat, one who acts unawares, i.e., whose action resulted from involvement in another matter and who had no intention to perform an action that is prohibited [mitasek], is not considered to have performed an unwitting act. The fundamental difference between unwitting [be-shogeg] and unawares [mitasek] is that one who acts unwittingly intends to perform the action in the manner that he performs it. However, due to forgetfulness or some other reason, he was not conscious of the fact that it is prohibited. Acting unawares refers to circumstances where one has no intent to perform the action at all. Everyone agrees that one who acts unawares is exempt with regard to the halakhot of Shabbat, since the Torah prohibited only planned, thoughtful labor. An action performed without intent to perform that action is excluded from that category. On the other hand, with regard to prohibited foods and forbidden relations, even one who acts unawares is liable because, ultimately, he derives a forbidden pleasure. As far as other transgressions, where one does not enjoy physical pleasure, the extent of the liability of one who acts unawares is unclea
Shabbat 71a-b: Half the Legal Measure
16/05/2020 - 22nd of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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Many of the Torah's prohibitions involve a specific measure of activity that may not be performed or quantity of food that may not be consumed. According to Torah law no punishment is administered if less than that measure is performed or quantity consumed. The amora’im debated whether performing or consuming less than the required measure is prohibited by the Torah or is only prohibited by rabbinic decree in order to prevent a person from transgressing the prohibition itself. (In this context the term "half" is not to be taken literally, and implies any amount less than the forbidden measure or quantity.) The Gemara on today's daf discusses this type of situation in the context of bringing a sin-offering after performing a forbidden action unintentionally. The Gemara quotes a Mishna that teaches:
If one ate one piece of forbidden fat and then ate another piece of forbidden fat in one lapse of awareness, he is liable to bring only one sin-offering.
Rav Huna explains that the Mishna teaches this rule, which seems fairly obvious, because we are dealing with a unique case, where the person committing the transgression had a "period of awareness" between eating two half olive-bulks. After eating the first half of an olive-bulk, he became aware that he had eaten food that was prohibited. Then he became unaware again and ate the second half of an olive-bulk. Although, with regard to sacrifices, awareness usually serves as a line of demarcation between unwitting transgressions performed prior to the period of awareness and unwitting transgressions performed thereafter, Rav Huna explains that the Mishna is in accordance with the opinion of Rabban Gamliel who rules "There is no awareness for half a measure." Since one is not liable to bring a sacrifice for half a measure, the fact that one became aware between consumption of the two halves of an olive-bulk is of no significance and does not demarcate between the two half-measures with regard to liability to bring a sin-offering. The essential question regarding half a measure, which is the subject of an amoraic dispute, is to what extent is half a measure a significant amount by Torah law? Do Torah prohibitions prohibit any amount of the item, and it is only liability that requires the definition of legal parameters? Or, does the prohibition itself apply only to the requisite measure, i.e., anything less than that measure is permitted by Torah law and prohibited only by rabbinic decree? The question of whether awareness of half a measure is significant is based on the same dispute.
Shabbat 70a-b: Deriving the Rule That Each Prohibited Labor is Independent
15/05/2020 - 21th of Iyyar, 5780
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According to the Mishna (see above, daf 68), one is liable to bring a sin-offering for each individual prohibited labor that he performs on Shabbat. The Gemara asks:
From where do we derive the division of labors? What is the source of the halakha that if one performs numerous prohibited labors on Shabbat in the course of one lapse of awareness, each prohibited labor is considered a separate offense with regard to punishment? Shmuel said that the verse says: “And you shall observe the Shabbat, for it is holy to you; he who desecrates it shall surely die [mot yumat]” (Shmot 31:14). We learn from the double language, mot yumat, that the Torah amplified multiple deaths for a single desecration.
According to this reading, although several violations were committed in the course of a single lapse of awareness, each is considered a separate offense with regard to punishment. This source is deemed problematic by the Gemara since that verse was written with regard to intentional transgression; the Gemara is seeking a source for multiple sacrifices brought for unwitting transgression. The Gemara explains the method from which it was derived:
If it does not refer to the matter of intentional transgression, as the verse does not teach a halakha applicable to intentional acts, as it was already written: “Six days you shall perform work, and on the seventh day it shall be holy to you, a Shabbat of rest to God; all who desecrate it shall die” (Shmot 35:2), refer it to the matter of unwitting transgression.
This form of reasoning - "if it does not refer to X refer it to the matter of Y" is one of the thirty-two hermeneutic principles of Rabbi Eliezer, son of Rabbi Yosei. According to most commentaries, the conclusions drawn from them are as authoritative as they would be if they were explicitly written in the Torah. This principle is based on the superfluity of verses in the context in which they are written. At the same time, the verse is never applied to matters totally unrelated to the meaning of the verse. Thus, the verse teaches that that which was written with regard to the death penalty for desecration of Shabbat in general applies to all halakhot of Shabbat, including cases of unwitting transgression..
Shabbat 69a-b: Losing Track of Shabbat
14/05/2020 - 20th of Iyyar, 5780
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
What should someone do if they have lost track of Shabbat? At home with a calendar this is difficult to do, but what happens to someone who is in the desert and loses track of time? This is a question discussed on today's daf.
Rav Huna said: One who was walking along the way or in the desert, and he does not know when Shabbat occurs, he counts six days from the day that he realized that he lost track of Shabbat and then observes one day as Shabbat. Ĥiyya bar Ra'v says: He first observes one day as Shabbat and then he counts six weekdays. The Gemara explains: With regard to what do they disagree? One Sage, Ra'v Huna, held: It is like the creation of the world, weekdays followed by Shabbat. And one Sage, Ĥiyya bar Ra'v, held: It is like Adam, the first man, who was created on the sixth day. He observed Shabbat followed by the six days of the week.
Under these circumstances, the person is aware that the day he has chosen to celebrate Shabbat is likely an ordinary weekday and that Shabbat may truly fall on a different day. For this reason Rava suggests that the person should limit his activities on all days. The Gemara records:
Rava said: The person who lost track of Shabbat and treats one day a week as Shabbat, each day he makes enough food to sustain himself, except for that day which he designated as Shabbat.
This position is ultimately rejected by the Gemara which reaches a different conclusion:
Rather, on each and every day he makes enough food to sustain himself for that day, including on that day that he designated as Shabbat. And if you ask: And how is that day which he designated as Shabbat distinguishable from the rest? It is distinguishable by means of the Kiddush and the havdala that he recites on that day.
In the Jerusalem Talmud, the dispute about celebrating Shabbat under these circumstances is attributed to Rav and Shmuel. In explanation of one of the opinions, an approach is cited according to which one counts six days and observes one, then counts five days and observes one, then four, then three, and then two until he is counting one day and observing one, at which point he again starts counting six and observing one. According to this approach, during every two rounds of counting days in that manner, the day he determined as Shabbat is really Shabbat.
Shabbat 68a-b: Defining the Categories of Prohibited Labor on Shabbat
13/05/2020 - 19th of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
One who profanes Shabbat intentionally is subject to death by stoning, if he were forewarned by witnesses, or karet, if he were not, as stated in the Torah. One who desecrates Shabbat unwittingly is liable to bring a sin-offering. In the halakhic midrash, the Sages derived through exegetical principles that the observance of Shabbat is different from other mitzvot. One who unwittingly performs several primary categories of prohibited labor on Shabbat can be liable to bring several sin-offerings. According to the accepted halakha, one who sinned unwittingly over the course of many Shabbatot is liable to bring a separate sin-offering for each and every Shabbat on which he performed a transgression because the profaning of each Shabbat constitutes a separate transgression. In the seventh chapter of Massekhet Shabbat, which begins on today's daf, details of this principle are elaborated. The circumstances in which numerous unwitting transgressions are considered as one transgression and the circumstances in which each Shabbat desecrated is considered to be a separate transgression are determined. Just as each Shabbat constitutes its own discrete unit, so too the various primary categories of prohibited labor constitute discrete units. Consequently, although all types of creative labor are prohibited by the verse: “You shall not do any manner of labor” (Shmot 20:9), each primary category of prohibited labor is considered a separate prohibition. For example, if one unwittingly performs several primary categories of prohibited labor during one specified time period, he is liable to bring a separate sin-offering for each primary category of prohibited labor violated. It is therefore imperative to ascertain the fundamental parameters of these primary categories of labor in order to ascertain which subcategories are attributed to each. Although other chapters in this tractate deal specifically with several of these categories of labor, the general discussion of this topic is found in this chapter.
Shabbat 67a-b: The Use of a Talisman
12/05/2020 - 18th of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Mishna on today's daf teaches:
One may go out on Shabbat with a locust egg, and with a fox tooth, and with a nail from the crucified, for the purpose of healing; this is the statement of Rabbi Meir. The Rabbis prohibit using these remedies even during the week, due to the prohibition of following the ways of the Amorite. These are superstitious beliefs and the customs of gentiles from which one must distance oneself.
Many of the customs and healing practices detailed in the seventh and eighth chapters of the Tosefta of this tractate, also known as the "Amorite chapters," are prohibited as ways of the Amorites, i.e., superstitious beliefs. Every superstitious belief, incantation, and divination falls under the rubric of several Torah prohibitions. The prohibition of divination and soothsaying comes from the verse: “There must not be found among you…a soothsayer, an enchanter, a witch” (Devarim 18:10), among others. In addition, there is the general prohibition: “And in their statutes do not walk” (Vayikra 18:3). Nevertheless, the statements of Abayye and Rava as well as those in the Tosefta are to be understood in the broadest possible manner. Any practice that was attempted and found to be an effective remedy, even if there is no clear scientific rationale for its effectiveness, may be utilized based on the empirical evidence. Yet another example of "the ways of the Amorites" is brought by the Gemara:
One who says: I will drink and leave over, I will drink and leave over, so that his wine will increase; that statement contains an element of the ways of the Amorite.
There are variant readings of this statement. Nevertheless, there is a fundamental principle in these chapters in the Tosefta that any practice or incantation that is deemed auspicious, especially when it is stated after the fact, contains an element of the ways of the Amorites. However, any expression that contains an element of prayer or supplication is considered like any other prayer and is permitted.
Shabbat 66a-b: Healing on Shabbat
11/05/2020 - 17th of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Mishna on today's daf discusses whether it is permitted to go out on Shabbat with an amulet or other folk remedy, permitting those that will not be removed by the person who is wearing them. This leads the Gemara to a broader discussion of medical procedures that were performed on Shabbat. On the topic of the use of various forms of healing and medicinal practices and their permissibility on Shabbat, the Gemara cites additional statements related by Avin bar Hunain the name of Rav Ĥama bar Gurya on these topics.The Gemara teaches:
Avin bar Huna said that Rav Ĥama bar Gurya said: With regard to overturning an empty cup in which there had been hot water and placing it on one’s navel for healing purposes on Shabbat, he may well do so.
According to Rashi’s explanation, the Gemara is apparently discussing a treatment similar to cupping glasses, which was common practice until recent times. From a medical perspective, the treatment works by increasing the flow of blood to a certain area. In the Rambam’s opinion, it is speaking in this context of using cupping glasses to restore the intestines to their place by drawing the skin outwards. The Gemara continues with other examples, including this one:
And Avin bar Huna said that Rav Ĥama bar Gurya said: It is permitted to strangle, i.e., tightly bandage the neck of one whose vertebra was dislocated in order to reset it, on Shabbat.
According to Rashi, this refers to the realignment of a displaced vertebra in the neck. A similar treatment is still in use today. However, the ge’onim explain that this strangulation involves applying pressure to the veins in the neck for medicinal purposes. In various cases, such as paroxysmal tachycardia, pressure is indeed applied to the veins in the neck and to the vagus nerve.
Shabbat 65a-b: When Going Out on Shabbat With Money is Permissible
10/05/2020 - 16th of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Mishna on today's daf continues its discussion regarding accoutrements that we might fear could possibly be removed and carried on Shabbat. The Mishna lists those things that we assume will not be removed, for which reason they can be worn. The Mishna teaches:
A woman may go out with a sela coin that she ties on a tzinit - a wound - on her foot.
The tzinit mentioned in the Mishna is either an inflamed swelling or callus on the sole of the foot. The coin that is stuck on the wound apparently prevented chafing. It is also conceivable that contact with the metal also healed the wound inasmuch as even today, various metal-based powders are used in the treatment of wounds. However, in the Jerusalem Talmud, tzinit is explained as gout, a very painful condition caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the blood, afflicting the feet, primarily the toes.
The Gemara asks: What is different about a sela? Why specifically is a coin placed on the wound? If you say that any object that is hard is beneficial for her, make an earthenware shard for her instead. Rather, it is beneficial due to the rust on the coin. If so, make a small silver plate for her. Why specifically a coin? Rather it is beneficial due to the image engraved on the coin. If so, make her a pulsa - an unminted coin - and engrave an image on it. Abayye said: Learn from it that all these factors together are beneficial for her.
The Me'iri explains that the depressions on the coin from the engraved image leave room for the swollen flesh protruding from the wound. Therefore, it is not painful to wear a shoe. A pulsa is a token or coin on which there is no imprimatur, or on which its image has rubbed off. In either case, it is not accepted as a coin.
Shabbat 64a-b: Suspicious Actions Performed in Private
09/05/2020 - 15th of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
What level of concern must we have that people will see a person performing an activity that is permitted and mistakenly suspect that it is forbidden? The Sages established a category of Jewish law that pertains to such suspicious looking acts, which is called mar'it ha-ayin. Sometimes, permissible ac­tions, which might be mistaken by an observer for prohibited conduct, were prohibited by Rabbinic decree, both to prevent people from unjustifiably suspecting others of misconduct, and to prevent people from incorrectly inferring that prohibited actions are permissible. On today's daf the Gemara relates an extension to this rule -
Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: Wherever the Sages prohibited an action due to the appearance of prohibition, even in the innermost chambers, where no one will see it, it is prohibited. When prohibiting an action, the Sages did not distinguish between different circumstances. They prohibited performing the action in all cases.
This statement of Rav is similar to a previous statement recorded in his name, that anything that the Sages prohibited doing in the public domain is also prohibited in the privacy of one’s courtyard. His reasoning is based on the principle: "The Sages do not distinguish." Once the Sages issued a decree prohibiting a particular action, they did not want to differentiate between different circumstances and prohibit performing that action in certain cases and permit it in others. To do so would undermine the very authority of the rabbinic decrees. Ultimately the Gemara suggests that the tanna'im differ regarding this question. In contrast, the Talmud Yerushalmi quotes a series of Mishnayot that clearly distinguish between activities done in public - which are forbidden - and in private - which are permitted, based upon which, the Yerushalmi rejects Rav's teaching entirely. The Rashba and others suggest that there is room to differentiate between cases where there is suspicion of an act that is truly forbidden and cases where people mistakenly think that a given action is forbidden. In the latter cases the Sages forbade performing such an action publicly, but permitted it to be done in private.
Shabbat 63a-b: The Frontplate Worn by the High Priest
08/05/2020 - 14th of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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While discussing the topic of ritual impurity, the Gemara relates:
When Rav Dimi came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia, he said that Rabbi Yoĥanan said: From where is it derived that a woven fabric of any size can become ritually impure? It is derived from the frontplate [tzitz] of the High Priest, which is considered a vessel despite its small size. Abayye said to him: And is the frontplate a woven fabric? Wasn’t it taught in a baraita: The frontplate is made like a kind of smooth plate of gold, and its width is two fingerbreadths, and it encircles the forehead from ear to ear. And on it is written in two lines: Yod heh, i.e., the Tetragrammaton, above, and kodesh lamed, i.e., sacred to, below. Thus, the words: Sacred to God, were written on the frontplate. In deference to the name of God, it would be written on the top line, and the words: Sacred to, on the line below. And Rabbi Eliezer, son of Rabbi Yosei, said: I saw it in the Caesar’s treasury in the city of Rome and Sacred to God was written on one line. In any case, since the frontplate is a gold plate, how can it serve as a source for ritual impurity in fabrics?
The frontplate was attached to the forehead of the high priest by a sky blue ribbon. The commentaries disagree whether one or more ribbons were used. Some explain that since the frontplate was a gold band attached with a thread to a woven fabric, the fabric was considered part of the frontplate. Therefore, it was possible to derive the legal status of the fabric from that of the frontplate and certainly to derive the status of an article made of fabric and metal. The Gemara rejects these possibilities since it was ascertained from the language of the tanna’im that the frontplate was primarily the metal part alone (Pnei Yehoshua).
Shabbat 62a-b: Causes of Poverty
07/05/2020 - 13th of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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While discussing aggadic explanations of Biblical verses, the Gemara offers the following teaching -
Rabbi Abbahu said, and some say it was taught in a baraita: Three matters bring a person to a state of poverty as a divine punishment from Heaven: One who urinates before his bed while naked, and one who demeans the ritual washing of the hands, and one whose wife curses him in his presence.
In response to this, Rava offers a number of limitations to Rabbi Abbahu's teachings:
- With regard to one who urinates before his bed while naked, Rava said: We only said this prohibition in a case where he turns his face toward his bed and urinates toward it; however, if he turns his face and urinates toward the outer portion of the room, we have no problem with it. And where one turns his face toward his bed, too, we only said this prohibition in a case where he urinates on the ground; however, if he urinates into a vessel, we have no problem with it since that is not considered disgusting. - With regard to one who demeans the ritual washing of the hands, Rava said: We only said this statement in a case where he does not wash his hands at all; however, if he washes his hands and does not wash them with a significant amount of water, we have no problem with it. - With regard to one whose wife curses him in his presence, Rava said: This is referring to a case where she curses him over matters relating to her ornaments, i.e., she complains that he does not provide her with jewelry. The Gemara comments: And that applies only when he has the resources to buy her jewelry but does not do so; however, if he does not have sufficient resources he need not be concerned.
The general approach taken by the rishonim is that poverty is not a natural consequence of the actions listed in the Gemara; it is a divine punishment (see Rashi). However, some commentaries explain that one who conducts himself in an unhygienic manner displays the traits of idleness and laziness, which ultimately lead to poverty. Even with regard to the case of his wife’s jewelry, one who treats his wife poorly will cause his wife to adopt a contemptuous attitude toward her household responsibilities, which will also lead to poverty (Me’iri). Some commentaries interpreted the issue of the woman’s jewelry as an example of the punishment fitting the crime, as is explained in the Gemara. Since one’s wife is dependent on him and he fails to meet her needs, he will be punished in kind and God will not meet his needs (Rabbeinu Nissim).
Shabbat 61a-b: Wearing Amulets on Shabbat
06/05/2020 - 12th of Iyyar, 5780
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Although the Sages forbade going outside with an amulet on Shabbat, lest it be removed and the person will carry it in the public domain, the Mishna taught that "an effective amulet" can be worn, since it will not be removed. The Gemara on today's daf attempts to clarify how we define "an effective amulet."
The Sages taught in the Tosefta: What is an effective amulet? It is any amulet that healed one person once, and healed him again, and healed him a third time. That is the criterion for an effective amulet, and it applies to both a written amulet and an amulet of herbal roots; both if it has proven effective in healing a sick person who is dangerously ill, and if it has proven effective in healing a sick person who is not dangerously ill. It is permitted to go out with these types of amulets on Shabbat.
An amulet is a magical charm to protect from harm the one who possesses it or wears it. The inscriptions on amulets in ancient times appear to have been various biblical passages that spoke of healing or protection. In the practical Kabbalah, various combinations of divine names are used for the writing of amulets on parchment. Despite the strong biblical opposition to magic and divination, amulets were accepted by the Sages, who even permitted effective amulets to be carried on the Sabbath when carrying objects in the public domain is normally forbidden. The Rambam, a rationalist thinker, rejected any belief in the amulet's efficacy. Nevertheless he codified this rule in his Mishneh Torah (Sefer Zemanim, Hilkhot Shabbat 19:14) but he believed that it is only permitted because of the psychological relief it can offer to the disturbed mind. Throughout the ages many rabbis not only tolerated the use of amulets but actually wrote them themselves.
Shabbat 60a-b: Wearing Spiked Sandals on Shabbat
05/05/2020 - 11th of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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Continuing the theme of Rabbinic decrees about clothing that might be removed and carried on Shabbat, the Mishna on today's daf lists accoutrements that should not be worn by men on Shabbat. The first example in the Mishna is a sandal ha-mesumar - a spiked sandal. The Gemara explains that there is a different reason for the restriction that prohibits wearing a sandal ha-mesumar -
Shmuel said: They were those who eluded the decrees of religious persecution, and after one of the wars they were hiding in a cave. And those hiding said: One who seeks to enter the cave may enter, but one who seeks to leave the cave may not leave. One leaving has no way to determine whether or not the enemy is lying in wait outside the cave. Therefore, leaving could reveal the presence of those hiding in the cave. It happened that the sandal of one of them was reversed, the front of the sandal was in the back, and his footprints appeared like the steps of one leaving the cave. They thought that one of them left and feared that their enemies saw him and were now coming upon them to attack. In their panic, they pushed one another and killed one another in greater numbers than their enemies had killed among them. To commemorate this disaster that resulted from a spiked sandal, they prohibited going out into the public domain with it.
Similar explanations are offered by other amora'im. Ultimately the Gemara explains that since this incident took place on Shabbat, they issued the decree prohibiting the spiked sandal specifically in parallel circumstances. This is not the only case of a decree issued due to an event that transpired. There are similar instances. The principle is that in the wake of an event that left a particularly traumatic impression, the Sages issued decrees and established ordinances so that no such event would recur. Even when it was unlikely that the event would transpire a second time, they commemorated the event by means of their decree, much the same as they decreed fast days to commemorate tragedies that befell the Jewish people. In the Jerusalem Talmud, additional reasons are cited for the decree prohibiting spiked sandals. Some explain that pregnant women would see the sandal, become frightened, and miscarry because it spurred memories of war. Others explain that they would be frightened by the noise of the spikes on the ground and miscarry. Therefore, the Sages issued a decree prohibiting wearing sandals of that kind.
Shabbat 59a-b: Rabbi Akiva's Gift to his Wife
04/05/2020 - 10th of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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We learned in the Mishna:
And neither may a woman go out on Shabbat to the public domain with a city of gold.
The Gemara asks:
What is the meaning of: With a city of gold? Rabba bar bar Ĥana said that Rabbi Yoĥanan said: Jerusalem of Gold, a gold tiara engraved with a depiction of the city of Jerusalem, like the one that Rabbi Akiva made for his wife.
Rabbi Akiva, who lived just after the destruction of the Second Temple, was one of the greatest of the tannaim. Unlettered until the age of 40, Akiva was encouraged by his wife Rachel to devote himself to the study of Torah. After years of study under the tutelage of Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus, Yehoshua ben Hanania and others, he returned with thousands of students and established his own academy in Bene Berak. The "city of gold" ornament that Rabbi Akiva made for his wife is mentioned several times throughout the Talmud. The Gemara relates that when they lived in abject poverty they resided in a hayloft. When he saw that the hay got into his wife’s hair, Rabbi Akiva told her that if he ever became wealthy he would make her a "city of gold" ornament. Eventually, he kept his promise. In the Jerusalem Talmud, it is told that the wife of the Nasi, Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel, complained to him that she does not have so expensive an ornament. He asked her: Would you have done for me what Rabbi Akiva’s wife did for him? Rabbi Akiva’s wife sold the braids of her hair so that he could study Torah and she earned that ornament. According to the descriptions of the Sages, the "city of gold" was a tiara on which the form of a city and its walls were depicted in gold. The Jerusalem of Gold specifically depicted the walls of Jerusalem. Apparently, this ornament was quite expensive and only a very limited number of aristocratic women wore it.
Shabbat 58a-b: Wearing the Exilarch's Seal on Shabbat
03/05/2020 - 9th of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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On today's daf the Gemara continues its discussion regarding accoutrements that we fear may be removed and carried on Shabbat. Due to this concern, the Sages decreed that certain types of apparel should not be worn. In that context the Gemara relates the following conversation:
And this is like that which Shmuel said to Rav Ĥinnana bar Sheila: All of the Sages affiliated with the house of the Exilarch may not go out on Shabbat with sealed cloaks [sarbal], i.e., garments with seals on them, except for you, since the people of the Exilarch’s house are not particular with regard to you.
The Sages affiliated with the Exilarch were officially considered servants of the house and would wear the seal of the house of the Exilarch. Therefore, it was prohibited for them to go out into the public domain on Shabbat with a cloak bearing the Exilarch’s seal, lest the seal break and, in fear of the Exilarch, they remove the cloak, fold it, place it on their shoulders, and carry it on Shabbat. Only Rav Ĥinnana bar Sheila was permitted to go out with this seal on Shabbat since the people of the Exilarch’s house were not exacting with him. Even if he wore clothing with no seal, they would not consider it an act of insubordination against the Exilarch. The ge’onim explain that the Exilarch was appointed to collect a clothes tax on behalf of the government. A seal was attached to every garment for which taxes had been paid. Therefore, it is prohibited to wear a sealed garment because the seal could fall off and, due to concern that one might be caught by the tax official, he will come to carry the seal with him. Rabbi Ĥinnana, however, was the exception because he was not concerned about the tax collectors (Rav Sherira Ga'on).
Shabbat 57a-b: How to Define "Carrying" on Shabbat
02/05/2020 - 8th of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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By Torah law, it is prohibited to carry a burden from domain to domain on Shabbat, and it is similarly prohibited to carry an object four cubits in the public domain. Clearly, one’s clothing is not considered a burden in this sense, and one who wears clothing in the typical fashion is not considered to be carrying a burden on Shabbat. This principle requires clarification and specification: What items fall under the rubric of clothing? Not every item that a person wears on his body is clothing per se, and not every garment is typically worn. In a certain sense an ornament is like clothing; however, what items fall under the rubric of ornament? Are there objective criteria that determine whether or not an item is an ornament, or perhaps that determination is totally dependent on the individual taste of the one who places the ornament on his person? Furthermore, there are different items that one might bear on his body, e.g., bandages, prosthetic limbs, and other medical equipment, including amulets, which are neither ornaments nor clothing. In order to determine whether or not one may go out with these items into the public domain, the question as to whether they are considered either an integral part of the person bearing them or his garments must be resolved. With regard to these issues, the Sages were also concerned lest an ornament or some other valuable item fall from the person wearing it and lest a woman come to show her ornaments to another. In those cases, the person from whom an object fell or the woman wearing the ornament may come to carry the object in their hand in a manner not comparable to wearing clothing. This would violate the prohibition against carrying out on Shabbat. Clearly, this concern does not exist with regard to all people or all items. The first Mishna in the sixth perek lists items that a woman may or may not carry into, or wear in the public domain on Shabbat. This depends on whether the particular object is considered an ornament, which she may wear, or merely a burden for the woman, which she may not. Even if it is considered an ornament, there is still concern that she might remove it and carry it in her hand in the public domain, which is prohibited by Torah law. The Mishna teaches:
A woman may neither go out with strings of wool, nor with strings of flax, nor with strips of any other materials that a woman braids in the hair of her head.
Some explain that it is prohibited to go out with woolen strings on Shabbat because the strings are not braided into the hair but simply rest upon it. Therefore, one needs only to loosen them in order to remove them (Rosh).
Shabbat 56a-b: Was King David a Sinner?
01/05/2020 - 7th of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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As we learned on yesterday's daf, the Gemara offers a list of prominent Biblical characters who appear to have sinned, and states categorically that it is a mistake to view them as sinners. One of the examples was King David. The Gemara on today's daf explains that King David was not a sinner because:
Although David sought to do evil and have relations with Bathsheba while she was still married to Uriah but did not do so. As Rabbi Shmuel bar Naĥmani said that Rabbi Yonatan said: Anyone who goes to a war waged by the royal house of David writes a conditional bill of divorce to his wife.That was done to prevent a situation in which the soldier’s wife would be unable to remarry because the soldier did not return from battle and there were no witnesses to his fate. The conditional bill of divorce accorded her the status of a divorcee and freed her to remarry. As it is stated: “And carry these ten cheeses to the captain of their thousand, and to your brothers bring greetings and take their pledge [arubatam]” (I Shmuel 17:18). What is the meaning of arubatam? Rav Yosef taught: It refers to matters that are shared [hame’oravim] between him, the husband, and her, the wife, i.e., marriage.
The verse should be read: Take the bill of divorce that determines the status of the relationship between husband and wife. As, apparently, it was customary for men at war to send their wives a conditional divorce, since Uriah later died, Bathsheba retroactively assumed divorced status from the time that he set out to war. She was not forbidden to David. The homiletic interpretations favorable to King David contradict the plain sense of the biblical text. Nevertheless, they may be understood in the following manner. A transgression can be judged by two sets of criteria: The first is strictly legal and the second factors in the transgressor’s intent and desires. The Bible judges David’s conduct according to his intentions. Since he ignored the severe prohibitions involved, he is deemed guilty. The Talmud, on the other hand, judges him according to the letter of the law. By this measure, his sin was not so severe. That is what the Gemara means in saying that King David sought to do evil but did not do so (Be’er HaGolah).
Shabbat 55a-b: Sinners in the Bible
30/04/2020 - 6th of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Gemara on today's daf turns its attention to prominent sinners - and non-sinners - in the Bible. Regarding those who never sinned the Gemara teaches:
Four people died due to etyo shel nahash - Adam’s sin with the serpent - in the wake of which death was decreed upon all of mankind, although they themselves were free of sin. And they are: Benjamin, son of Jacob; Amram, father of Moses; Yishai, father of David; and Kilab, son of David.
Some commentaries interpret the word etyo in this context as its pen [eto], meaning: This decree that people will die was written from the time of the serpent (see Bereishit Chapter 3;  Aruk). Having mentioned some of the significant ancestors of the Jewish people, the Gemara now addresses the sins of several other Biblical figures.  
Rabbi Shmuel bar Naĥmani said that Rabbi Yonatan said: Anyone who says that Reuben sinned with Bilhah is nothing other than mistaken.
Similar statements are recorded in the Gemara about King David, King Solomon, the sons of Eli and others about whom stories are told in the Bible that appear to portray them as having sinned. In his Ein Ayah Rav Kook explains that Torah narratives are constructed with Divine wisdom, and their purpose is to impress upon the reader certain Heavenly lessons. In some cases, the most fundamental message of the narrative cannot be properly related through a straightforward presentation, and God employs metaphor so that the story’s moral will be understood. As time passes, if the metaphor is no longer clear, the lesson may be misinterpreted as well; and it is, then, the responsibility of the Sages to utilize their expertise in the oral tradition and clarify matters. By synthesizing the simple meaning of the Bible text with the profound interpretive methodology of the Sages, they arrive at an understanding that once again reflects the true lesson of the Torah
Shabbat 54a-b: How to Lead Camels on Shabbat
29/04/2020 - 5th of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Gemara on today's daf continues its discussions of the laws that regulate what can be placed on an animal on Shabbat. The Mishna teaches:
And one may not tie camels one to the other and pull the lead camel, thereby pulling the others after it.
The Gemara asks:
What is the reason for this? Rav Ashi said: Because he appears like one going to the market [ĥinga] to sell merchandise or to deliver a caravan of camels. In deference to Shabbat, one may not create that impression.
The majority opinion is that the word hinga in this context refers to a market. Elsewhere, Rashi interprets the term as a long journey. The connotation of a market is based on the custom to hold market days in conjunction with pagan holidays when large masses of people would gather. Therefore, it is called hinga and not haga because haga means festival, while hinga indicates the sorrow and pain associated with idolatry. In similar fashion, the Sages referred to pagan festivals as yom eidam, meaning a day of their misfortune (see also Rabbeinu Hananel who relates it to the name of a specific pagan festival). Some commentaries teach that the word hinga is derived from the word huga, a circle or circuit, because one who goes to a market walks around (Me’iri). Most commentaries explain that it is prohibited to tie several camels one behind the other, and pull them on Shabbat as though they were part of a caravan. If he holds the bits of several camels together, however, it is permitted. Some authorities disagree, ruling that leading more than one animal at a time is always prohibited. According to that understanding, when the Gemara speaks of placing the rope in his hands, it is referring to a rope that connects one bit to another (an opinion cited in the Tur).
Shabbat 53a-b: Placing Ornaments on Animals on Shabbat
28/04/2020 - 4th of Iyyar, 5780
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The Gemara on today's daf continues its discussions of the laws that regulate what can be placed on an animal on Shabbat. The Gemara teaches:
R' Hiyya bar Ashi said that Rav said: One may hang a basket with fodder around the neck of an animal on Shabbat, and by means of an a fortiori inference, derive that one may place a saddlecloth on an animal’s back on Shabbat. What is the a fortiori inference? Just as there, placing the basket of fodder so that the animal can eat without bending down, which is done for the animal’s pleasure, is permitted; here, placing the saddlecloth, which is done to prevent the animal from suffering from the cold, all the more so should be permitted.
Some commentaries suggest that Rav permits hanging a basket of fodder around the neck of an animal on Shabbat, even though this seems to contradict the baraita that was taught previously. Rav holds that cruelty to animals is a Torah prohibition. The Sages would not have issued a decree that would lead to violation of a Torah prohibition. Therefore, he makes no distinction between causing the animal to suffer and withholding pleasure from the animal (Rabbi Elazar Moshe Horowitz). Another discussion relates to ornamental objects placed on an animal. The Gemara teaches:
A horse may neither go out into the public domain on Shabbat with a fox’s tail that is placed as a talisman to ward off the evil eye nor with a string of red wool that is hung between its eyes as an ornament.
Some suggest that a fox’s tail and red wool were not ornamental but served as a talisman to ward off diseases or the evil eye (Me’iri). Some commentaries deduce from here that all animal ornaments have the legal status of a burden; therefore, the animal may not go out with them on Shabbat. Other authorities distinguish between ornaments like these, which are not universally placed on animals and are considered a burden, and a standard ornament such as a bell, which is not a burden and is permitted (Rashba).
Shabbat 52a-b: Trying to Learn From Red Heifers
27/04/2020 - 3rd of Iyyar, 5780
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As we learned on yesterday's daf the focus of the Gemara in the fifth perek is to determine what an animal can carry on Shabbat. Specifically, which of the items that one customarily places on an animal - a saddle, reins, and chains - are considered a "garment" for the animal? Generally speaking, if they serve the animal’s needs, it is permitted to place them on the animal. But which items are considered a burden that would be prohibited to be placed on an animal? On today's daf ,the Gemara attempts to clarify this question by turning to a different area of halakha. A para aduma - a Red Heifer - cannot be used for the purification ritual if it had been subjected to work, e.g. if a yoke had been attached to it. The Gemara teaches:
If its owner tied a red heifer with its reins that are attached to the bit, it remains fit for use in the purification ritual. And if it should enter your mind to say that a bit is considered a burden, why does a red heifer remain fit for use? The Torah explicitly stated: “Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring you a red heifer without defect, in which there is no blemish, and upon which never came a yoke” (Bamidbar 19:2). A red heifer is disqualified by a burden. Abayye said: There, the baraita is referring to the case of a red heifer whose owner is leading it from city to city. When the animal is removed from its habitat, it requires additional security. In that case, tying the heifer with its reins is conventional rather than excessive security. Therefore, the bit is not considered a burden. Rava said: A red heifer, whose monetary value is high, is different and therefore secured more carefully than other cows. Ravina said: The baraita is referring to a red heifer that is rebellious and headstrong. Therefore, it requires added security.
There are many halakhot that relate to the Red Heifer, as detailed in tractate Para in the order of Teharot. Some of them deal with the precise definition of a yoke and the labors that disqualify a Red Heifer. All the explanations offered in this context are based on the assumption that all measures necessary for reasonable and essential security of a heifer, even if they would be considered a burden with regard to a different animal, are considered neither a burden nor a yoke. Ultimately, the unique characteristics of the para aduma do not allow us to derive the laws of Shabbat from it.
Shabbat 51a-b: Animals That Carry on Shabbat
26/04/2020 - 2nd of Iyyar, 5780
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When the Torah commanded us to refrain from labor on Shabbat, it also commanded us to rest our animals. An animal may not perform labor on behalf of its owner on Shabbat (Shemot 20:9; 23:12). The fifth perek of Massekhet Shabbat, which begins on today's daf does not clarify the full extent of the mitzva to rest one’s animal; it deals extensively with preventing one’s animal from performing just one prohibited labor, the labor of carrying out on Shabbat. The halakhot of carrying out are cited first primarily because one must be aware at the onset of Shabbat which vessels and equipment may be left on the animal on Shabbat and which items must be removed. The central issue discussed in this chapter is: Which of the items that one customarily places on an animal - a saddle, reins, and chains - are considered a garment for the animal? If they serve the animal’s needs, it is permitted to place them on the animal. Which items are considered a burden, and it is prohibited to place them on the animal? The assumption is that any item typically used for protection of the animal is considered to be serving the animal’s needs, and leaving it on the animal is permitted. Therefore, it is necessary to ascertain the means of protection standard for each animal and whether or not excessive security measures constitute a burden. The first Mishna in the perek asks:
With what may an animal go out into the public domain on Shabbat and with what may it not go out? A camel may go out on Shabbat with an afsar, and a naka may go out with a ĥatam, and a luvdekim may go out with a perumbiya.
Several of the terms used in the Mishna were not clear to the Sages, and the Gemara asks:
What is the meaning of naka with a ĥatam? Rabba bar bar Ĥana said: A white female camel with an iron nose ring. And what is the meaning of luvdekim with a perumbiya? Rav Huna said: A Libyan donkey with an iron halter.
The Gemara explains that an object designated to protect the animal or to prevent it from fleeing is not considered a burden, and these examples fall into those categories.
Shabbat 50a-b: Male Grooming
25/04/2020 - 1st of Iyyar, 5780
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On today's daf the Gemara turns its attention to the use of soap and similar cleansing agents on Shabbat, some of which may act as depilatories that will remove hair. For example, the Gemara discusses the use of berada - made up of aloe, myrtle, and third violets - which is determined to be permissible to use.
The Gemara relates that Ameimar, Mar Zutra, and Rav Ashi were sitting on Shabbat, and they brought berada before them for washing. Ameimar and Rav Ashi washed with it; Mar Zutra did not wash. Ultimately the Gemara concludes that Mar Zutra refrained from the use of berada all week long. Mar Zutra holds in accordance with that which was taught in a baraita: A person may scrape off dried excrement crusts and scabs of a wound that are on his flesh because of the pain that they are causing him. However, if he does so in order to clean and beautify himself, it is prohibited.
According to the tanna of this baraita, it is prohibited to adorn or beautify oneself, as the verse: “Neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment” (Devarim 22:5) prohibits dressing or conducting oneself in the manner of women. This source is understood to prohibit not only members of one gender from wearing clothes unique to the other gender, but also prohibits men from wearing ornaments or undergoing cosmetic treatments unique to women. According to some authorities, any ornament or treatment that has no health benefit is by definition a practice unique to women and a man who engages in those practices violates the prohibition. This is not the only position, however.
The Gemara asks: And Ameimar and Rav Ashi, who permit use of berada, in accordance with whose opinion do they hold? They hold in accordance with that which was taught in a baraita: A person must wash his face, his hands, and his feet every day for the sake of his Maker, as it is stated: “The Lord has made everything for His own purpose” (Mishlei 16:4).
Every beautiful thing that exists in the world sings the praise of God Who created beautiful things. Therefore, it is appropriate for one to beautify himself in praise of God.
Shabbat 49a-b: Dove's Wings
24/04/2020 - 30th of Nisan, 5780
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The Mishna teaches:
One may insulate a pot of hot food on Shabbat eve in clothing, in produce, in doves’ wings, in a carpenter’s wood-shavings, and in the chaff of fine flax. Rabbi Yehuda prohibits doing so when it is fine, and permits doing so when it is coarse.
Since doves’ wings were mentioned in the Mishna, the Gemara cites a related story: Rabbi Yannai said: Donning phylacteries requires a clean body, like that of Elishah, Ba'al Kenafayim (Man of Wings). The Gemara asks:
And why did they call Elisha Man of Wings? Because on one occasion the evil kingdom of Rome issued a decree against Israel that, as punishment, they would pierce the brain of anyone who dons phylacteries. Nevertheless, Elisha would don them and defiantly go out to the marketplace. One day, an official who was appointed to enforce the decree saw him; Elishah ran away from him, and the official ran after him. When the official reached him, Elisha removed the phylacteries from his head and held them in his hand. The officer asked him: What is that in your hand? Elisha said to him: It is merely a dove’s wings. A miracle was performed: He opened his hand, and, indeed, it was found to be a dove’s wings. Therefore, in commemoration of this miracle, they would call him Elisha, Man of Wings.
The Gemara asks:
And what is different about doves’ wings from those of other birds that led Elisha to say that he had doves’ wings in his hand? The Gemara answers: Because the congregation of Israel is likened to a dove, as it is stated: “You shall shine as the wings of a dove covered with silver and her pinions with yellow gold” (Tehillim 68:14). Just as this dove, only its wings protect it and it has no other means of protection, so too the Jewish people, only mitzvot protect them.
The simple explanation to this story is that a dove has no means of protection other than its ability to make use of its wings and fly away from its enemies. This stands in contrast with other birds which have other means to defend themselves from danger.
Shabbat 48a-b: Heating Water on Shabbat
23/04/2020 - 29th of Nisan, 5780
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Continuing its discussion of keeping food hot on Shabbat, the Gemara relates an anecdote that presents some of the issues involved with heating water on Shabbat.
Rabba and Rabbi Zeira happened to come to the house of the Exilarch on Shabbat, and saw this servant who placed a jug [kuza] of cold water on the mouth of a kettle filled with hot water. Rabba rebuked him for having acted contrary to the halakha. Rabbi Zeira said to Rabba: How is this case different from placing an urn on top of another urn, which is permitted on Shabbat? Rabba said to him: There, when he places one urn on top of another urn, he merely preserves the heat in the upper urn; therefore, it is permitted. Here, in the case where he places the jug of cold water on the mouth of a kettle, he is generating heat in the water in the upper vessel; therefore, it is prohibited.
Some commentaries explain that the Gemara is not discussing a kettle on the fire. Rather, the servant sought to place the jug on top of the kettle and insulate them both together. Rabbi Zeira was of the opinion that this is permitted, while Rabba maintained that since the hot water in the kettle will heat the water in the jug, it is not merely insulating, but tantamount to cooking (Rabbeinu Yonah). As far as halakha is concerned, it is prohibited to place a jug of cold water atop a hot kettle on Shabbat. This applies, however, only to a situation where the water in the jug could be heated to the point that one’s hand would spontaneously recoil from it. Any other conclusion would contradict earlier conclusions of the Gemara with regard to heating water (Tosafot; Ran; Shulĥan Aruk, Oraĥ Ĥayyim 318:17).
Shabbat 47a-b: Keeping Food Hot on Shabbat
22/04/2020 - 28th of Nisan, 5780
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In Chapter Three, the halakhot of cooking were discussed extensively. Although the Torah prohibited cooking on Shabbat, it is permitted to leave food on the fire on Shabbat eve so that its cooking will be completed on Shabbat, as explained in Chapter One and Chapter Three of this tractate. A series of related halakhot about insulating on Shabbat are discussed in Chapter Four. It was customary to place hot food and liquids into various substances with the capacity to preserve and even add heat. This act of insulating is comparable to placing a cooked dish in coals and embers, which is prohibited by rabbinic decree, lest one come to stoke the coals and ignite them. In this case, although there is an explicit principle that a decree is not issued due to concern lest one come to violate another rabbinic decree, the Sages prohibited insulating food for Shabbat in those cases most similar to placing a cooked dish in coals. In cases of this sort, the Gemara explains that the different decrees were issued contemporaneously. Therefore, it is not a case of a decree issued to prevent violation of another decree, as they are all one decree. The general discussion in this chapter includes a list of substances with which it is permitted and those with which it is prohibited to insulate hot food on Shabbat. Most of the substances listed in the first Mishna add heat, i.e., they spontaneously generate heat as a result of different internal chemical reactions. When the solid residue of grapes, sesame, manure, and straw are moist they undergo a process of fermentation which generates heat, to the point that they sometimes ignite. Lime and salt undergo different processes. When they absorb moisture from the air new compounds are created, in the course of which heat is released. For this reason, the Sages prohibited insulating food in those materials before Shabbat.
Shabbat 46a-b: Dissolving Vows on Shabbat
21/04/2020 - 27th of Nisan, 5780
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Still in the midst of its discussion of the laws of muktzeh - the rabbinic prohibition against moving objects that were "set aside" as being unusable on Shabbat - the Gemara on today's daf raises a question based on a Mishna from Massekhet Nedarim:
One may nullify vows on Shabbat. A woman who vowed that certain food is prohibited to her, her husband can nullify her vow on Shabbat. And likewise one may request that a Sage find an opening to dissolve his vows, i.e., a factor that the one taking the vow failed to take into account or an element of regret, if that nullification or dissolution is for the purpose of Shabbat. The question arises: And why, after a man has nullified his wife’s vow, should she be permitted to eat that food? When the woman vowed not to eat that food, she consciously set it aside. Even if some way to dissolve the vow is found, the food should remain set-aside. On the basis of the same uncertainty that was raised above, say: Who says that her husband will agree to engage in nullifying her oath? Perhaps he will refuse to nullify it.
The Gemara answers:
There, in the case of vows, it can be explained in accordance with that which Rav Pineĥas said in the name of Rava, who came to explain some of the fundamentals of the halakhot of vows, as Rav Pineĥas said in the name of Rava: Every woman who takes a vow, it is from the outset contingent on her husband’s consent that she takes the vow. Since she knows that her husband has the ability to nullify it, her vows are not absolute and their final validation comes only through her husband’s agreement. When a woman vows, she does not set aside the food absolutely from potential use.
The halakhot of vows and their nullification are articulated in the Torah (Bamidbar, Chapter 30), and the entire tractate of Nedarim is devoted to those halakhot. By Torah law, a husband may nullify his wife’s vows on the day that he hears them. The Gemara explains that this applies only to those vows that affect her husband in some way. Since the verse itself states: “Every vow, and every binding oath to afflict the soul, her husband may let it stand, or her husband may make it void” (Numbers 30:14), the statement of Rav Pineĥas is readily understood. From the time she takes the vow, she is aware that it is contingent upon her husband’s consent. In Tractate Nedarim, it is explained at length that one may dissolve a vow that he made by consulting with a Sage. There are several reasons that a Sage would agree to dissolve a vow. The simplest reason is if the one who took the vow realizes afterward that it is difficult for him to fulfill it, and, therefore, he regrets taking the vow. Since regret is a valid reason to dissolve the vow, in exigent circumstances,
Shabbat 45a-b: Drying Figs and raisins on Shabbat
20/04/2020 - 26th of Nisan, 5780
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The Gemara on today's daf continues its discussion of the laws of muktzeh - the rabbinic prohibition against moving objects that were "set aside" as being unusable on Shabbat - and discusses the position of Rabbi Shimon who is reputed to reject the concept of muktzeh on Shabbat. The Gemara does note one exception to this rule:
Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said: There is only a prohibition of muktzeh according to Rabbi Shimon in the cases of dried figs and raisins alone.
The case of one who takes figs and raisins up to his roof in order to dry them in the sun is the only situation in which Rabbi Shimon holds that they are prohibited on Shabbat due to the prohibition of set-aside. Since in the initial stages of the process they emit a bad odor and are unfit for consumption, one consciously sets them aside. Does this apply to all fruits that are put out to dry? This question is raised by the Gemara itself:
Rabbi Shimon bar Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, raised a dilemma before his father, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi: Unripe dates that are placed in baskets to ripen and until they are ripe can only be eaten with difficulty, according to the opinion of Rabbi Shimon, what is their legal status as far as moving them on Shabbat is concerned? Are they considered set-aside? Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to him: There is only a prohibition of muktzeh according to Rabbi Shimon in the cases of dried figs and raisins alone.
Some explain the difference between unripe dates, on the one hand, and dried figs and raisins, on the other. Figs and raisins are expressly set-aside, while unripe dates are not. They are simply not yet edible, but they will become so over time. Therefore, because one only set them aside temporarily, they are not prohibited (Tosefot Yeshanim).
Shabbat 44a-b: Of Wagons and Ritual Purity
19/04/2020 - 25th of Nisan, 5780
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While discussing the laws of muktzeh - the rabbinic prohibition against moving objects whose use is forbidden on Shabbat - the Gemara on today's daf quotes a Mishna from Massekhet Kelim. This Mishna deals primarily with the laws of ritual impurity and discusses the relationship between a wagon and its undercarriage [mukheni], the system of wheels and the frame at the base of the wagon.
And the Sages said: The wagon’s undercarriage, when it is detachable from the wagon, it is not considered connected to it and they are considered independent units as far as the halakhot of ritual impurity are concerned. And it is not measured with it. This refers to calculating the volume of forty se’ah, as a vessel with a volume larger than forty se’ah does not have the legal status of a vessel and cannot become ritually impure. And the undercarriage likewise does not protect together with the wagon in a tent over the corpse. A large wagon is considered a tent in and of itself and the vessels inside the wagon do not become impure if the wagon is over a corpse. However, the undercarriage is not included with the wagon in this regard. If a hole in the wagon is sealed by the undercarriage, it is not considered sealed with regard to preventing ritual impurity.
Regarding the discussion of muktzeh the Mishna concludes:
And, likewise, one may not pull the wagon on Shabbat when there is money upon it.
Preventing objects from becoming ritually impure in a tent over a corpse can be accomplished in any number of ways. In this context, the discussion is with regard to an object covering a corpse like a tent. The object itself remains ritually pure and the objects above that object also remain ritually pure. Objects beneath it become impure. With regard to a ceramic vessel in a tent over a corpse there is a similar halakha. If it is sealed, it protects its contents from ritual impurity (Bamidbar 19:15). According to Tosafot, a large wooden vessel, which cannot become ritually impure because it has a capacity of more than forty se’ah and does not, therefore, have the legal status of a vessel, preserves the ritual purity of items inside it when it is closed on all sides. In the case at hand, if we understand the undercarriage to be the entire bottom part of the wagon and not just the wheels alone, as Rashi explains, then when there is an opening in the bottom of the wagon that is sealed by the undercarriage, the wagon is not considered sealed and does not protect its contents from ritual impurity in the case of a tent over a corpse.
Shabbat 43a-b: Of Eggs and Beds
18/04/2020 - 24th of Nisan, 5780
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In discussing the use of a newly laid egg on Shabbat or Yom Tov, the Gemara quotes a baraita which teaches that using such an egg is forbidden; nevertheless it can be covered with a bowl to protect it and then it can be used when Shabbat or Yom Tov has ended. The examples given by the baraita of possible uses for the egg are of some interest - the baraita suggests that it might have been used to cover a utensil or to support a bed. Support a bed!? The rishonim were quick to ask why the baraita would suggest supporting a large, heavy object like a bed with an egg. In truth, mechanically speaking, the structure of an egg is, theoretically, very strong - strong enough to withstand enormous pressure without breaking, even though its shell is very thin. Practically, however, without a specially prepared apparatus, it would be impossible to have an egg actually support something large and heavy. Therefore, the logical approach to the baraita is the one suggested by the Me'iri and others. They explain that the "bed" referred to is not a bed that people sleep on, but rather a type of bowl or other utensil that is used on a table, which, because of its shape - some say that it has a rounded bottom like that of a small ship - needs to be supported by something. An egg, apparently, was the object of choice to hold up this "bed." To support his theory, the Me'iri points out a word in Arabic for such a table utensil - hamta - which is similar to the Hebrew word for bed: ha-mita. In Mishnayot Ma'asrot (1:9) we find the word hamita used in such a context, and the Rambam in his Perush ha-Mishnayot there translates the word as a small earthen vessel that is sometimes used on the table. Some suggest that the Gemara's reference is to an ordinary bed, but that the egg is not supporting it, rather it is placed next to the bed to serve as a type of amulet or charm (e.g. for procreation).
Shabbat 42a-b: Can Salt be Cooked?
17/04/2020 - 23th of Nisan, 5780
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In continuation of the discussion of vessels where the prohibition of cooking applies even though the vessels are not actually on the fire itself, the Mishna teaches:
A stew pot [ilpas] and a pot that were removed from the fire while they were still boiling, even if they were removed before Shabbat, one may not place spices into them on Shabbat itself. Even though the pot is not actually standing on the fire, the spices are still cooked in it because the pot is a primary vessel, i.e., a vessel whose contents were cooked on the fire. However, one may place the spices into a bowl or into a tureen [tamĥui], which is a large bowl into which people pour the contents a stew pot or a pot. Bowls and tureens are both secondary vessels and food placed into them does not get cooked. Rabbi Yehuda says: One may place spices into anything on Shabbat except for a vessel that has in it something containing vinegar or brine of salted fish.
The Gemara offers two different versions of a discussion between Rav Yosef and Abayye who quotes Rabbi Hiyya - either as saying that salt cooks even in a secondary vessel or else that it can never get cooked, even in a primary vessel. It is difficult to articulate a precise and unequivocal definition of cooking salt, because the concept of cooking, in general, is not clear in the Talmud. In any case, water with even a very small quantity of salt requires a significantly higher temperature to reach boiling. Since salt boils only at a very high temperature or after cooking for a long time, its cooking is said to be like "cooking the meat of an ox." As far as the halakha is concerned, sprinkling salt into a primary vessel after it was taken off the fire is permitted, as per the second version in the Gemara, because halakha tends to be established according to the second version. Moreover, in that version Rav Naĥman and Abayye are in agreement. Other authorities state that putting salt even into a secondary vessel is prohibited (Rema). According to that approach, the first statement in the Gemara is accepted (Taz). (Rema; Rambam Sefer Zemanim, Hilkhot Shabbat 22: 6; Shulĥan Aruk, Oraĥ Ĥayyim 318:9).
Shabbat 41a-b: The Challenge of Moving to Israel
16/04/2020 - 22th of Nisan, 5780
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Should one move to Israel? The Gemara relates that there was a disagreement among the Sages of the Gemara regarding this question.
Rabbi Zeira was avoiding being seen by his teacher, Rav Yehuda, as Rabbi Zeira sought to ascend to Eretz Yisrael and his teacher disapproved. As Rav Yehuda said: Anyone who ascends from Babylonia to Eretz Yisrael transgresses a positive commandment, as it is stated: “They shall be taken to Babylonia and there they shall remain until the day that I recall them, said the Lord” (Yirmiyahu 27:22). Based on that verse, Rav Yehuda held that since the Babylonian exile was by divine decree, permission to leave Babylonia for Eretz Yisrael could only be granted by God. Rabbi Zeira did not want to discuss his desire to emigrate with Rav Yehuda, so that he would not be forced to explicitly disobey him. Nevertheless, he said: I will go and hear something from him and then I will leave.
The Gemara in Massekhet Ketubot (daf 110b) relates a similar incident regarding Rabbi Zeira who was a student of Rav Yehuda. That Gemara argues that the proof-text brought by Rav Yehuda from Sefer Yirmiyahu was understood by Rabbi Zeira as referring specifically to the Temple vessels that had been looted by the Babylonian troops. According to his approach, those vessels would not be returned until the time of redemption, and the passage does not relate at all to moving to Israel. Tosafot point out that in any case, the context of the passage in Yirmiyahu clearly relates to the period following the destruction of the first Temple; nevertheless Rav Yehuda chose to apply it to his time, as well. Apparently even according to Rav Yehuda's understanding, the prohibition - which is unique to Babylonia - did not apply while the Temple was standing, for then there is clearly a mitzva to immigrate to the land of Israel and fulfill the mitzvot that are connected with the land of Israel. However, Rav Yehuda maintained that after the destruction of the Temple it was forbidden to leave Babylonia.
Shabbat 40a-b: Bathhouses on Shabbat
15/04/2020 - 21th of Nisan, 5780
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The Gemara relates that is was common practice for the Sages to go to a sauna to sweat on Jewish festivals. This permission became limited, however, as explained by the Gemara:
When the number of transgressors increased, the Sages began to prohibit this. However, the large bathhouses [ambatyaot] in cities, one may stroll through them as usual and need not be concerned about the prohibitions of Shabbat, even if he sweats while doing so.
The bathhouses in the big cities consisted of several large rooms. It was customary to walk through them for purposes other than bathing. The heating in most of these bathhouses was under the floor, so simply walking through the bathhouse would cause one to sweat.
And the Gemara asks: What are these transgressors? The Gemara answers: Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi said that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said in the name of bar Kappara: Initially, people would bathe even on Shabbat in hot water that was heated before Shabbat. The bathhouse attendants began to heat water on Shabbat and say that it was heated before Shabbat. Therefore, the Sages prohibited bathing in hot water and permitted sweating. And they would still bathe in hot water and say: We are sweating, and that is why we entered the bathhouse. Therefore, the Sages prohibited sweating and permitted bathing in the hot springs of Tiberias. And people would still bathe in hot water heated by fire and say: We bathed in the hot springs of Tiberias. Therefore, they prohibited even the hot springs of Tiberias and permitted them to bathe in cold water. When the Sages saw that their decrees were not upheld by the people because of their stringency, they permitted them to bathe in the hot springs of Tiberias, and the decree prohibiting sweating remained in place.
According to the Ran, the Gemara does not mean to say that the attendants actually heated the water on Shabbat by lighting a fire and boiling it. Indeed, the general principle is that Jews are never suspected of willfully desecrating the Shabbat. Rather, the statement must be understood to mean that the attendants added wood to the fire just before Shabbat and sealed the openings of the bathhouse. This act was prohibited lest the attendants come to stir the coals. This explanation is found in the Talmud Yerushalmi.
Shabbat 39a-b: The Hot-Springs of Tiberias
14/04/2020 - 20th of Nisan, 5780
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As we learned on yesterday's daf , the Sages of the Mishna forbade the people of Tiberias from heating up cold water by means of a pipe that was placed in the hot-springs in that city. The Gemara on today's daf tries to ascertain why that was prohibited, suggesting that the hot-springs are considered heated by fire. The Gemara teaches:
The Rabbis said the following to Rabbi Yose: Wasn’t the incident involving the people of Tiberias with derivatives of the sun, as the hot springs of Tiberias are not heated by fire, and nevertheless the Sages prohibited them from using the water? Rabbi Yose said to them: That is not so. That incident involved derivatives of fire, as the hot springs of Tiberias are hot because they pass over the entrance to Gehenna.They are heated by hellfire, which is a bona fide underground fire. That is not the case with derivatives of the sun, which are not heated by fire at all.
The Sages who say that the hot springs of Tiberias are heated by the sun mean that the water is not heated by fire. Any source of heat other than fire is comparable to the sun in the sense that cooking with it is significantly different from cooking with fire and should be permitted. Rabbi Yose, on the other hand, believes that the hot springs are heated by the fire that arises from beneath the ground, called here hellfire. The legal status of the hot springs is analogous to water heated by fire although their fire was not lit by human hand. In fact, the Tiberias hot-springs, near the Sea of the Galilee, contain geothermally heated groundwater that is at a constant temperature of 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit). In general, the temperature of rocks within the earth increases with depth. When water percolates deeply enough into the crust, it will be heated as it comes into contact with hot rocks. Much of the Earth's internal heat is produced by decay of naturally radioactive elements, which is not "fire" in the normal sense of the term.
Shabbat 38a-b: How They Heated Water in Tiberias
13/04/2020 - 19th of Nisan, 5780
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The Mishna continues with its discussion of heating up food on Shabbat by turning to the question of heating water.
The Mishna relates a story about the people of the city of Tiberias, and they ran a cold-water pipe [silon] through a canal of hot water from the Tiberias hot springs. They thought that by doing so, they could heat the cold potable water on Shabbat. The Rabbis said to them: If the water passed through on Shabbat, its legal status is like that of hot water that was heated on Shabbat, and the water is prohibited both for bathing and for drinking. And if the water passed through on a Festival, then it is prohibited for bathing but permitted for drinking. On Festivals, one is even permitted to boil water on actual fire for the purposes of eating and drinking.
Tiberias is a town on the shore of the Sea of Galilee founded by Herod Antipas (c. 18 C.E.). It was apparently founded on the site of earlier settlements, and according to some opinions in the Talmud (Megilla 6a) this was the site of the biblical city of Rakkat. At the outset, Tiberias was a town of mixed Jewish and gentile population. The Jewish population was not distinguished for its Torah scholarship. However, after the destruction of the Temple, important Torah scholars, such as Ben Azzai and Rabbi Meir, lived there. Its period of greatness came when the Sanhedrin moved there (c. 235 C.E.) and it became the seat of "the Great Council", presided over by Rabbi Yehuda Nesia I. After him Rabbi Yohanan became its leading spiritual figure, and headed the yeshiva there. From that time, Tiberias was the Torah center of Eretz Yisrael. Most of the disciples of Rabbi Yohanan, particularly those who immigrated from Babylonia, lived and continued their studies there. For many years, the people of Tiberias drew their water from springs adjacent to their city and not from the Sea of Galilee. However, the water from the Tiberias hot springs is not potable. Therefore, the people of Tiberias tried to use the hot springs to heat potable water, transported by means of aqueducts, by running a pipe through the hot springs.
Shabbat 37a-b: Placing Food on a Stove
12/04/2020 - 18th of Nisan, 5780
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According to the Mishna on yesterday's, cooked food can be placed on a stove whose fire has been extinguished before Shabbat begins. The Mishna teaches:
With regard to a stove that was lit on Shabbat eve with straw or with rakings, scraps collected from the field, one may place a pot of cooked food atop it on Shabbat. The fire in this stove was certainly extinguished while it was still day, as both straw and rakings are materials that burn quickly. However, if the stove was lit with pomace, pulp that remains from sesame seeds, olives, and the like after the oil is squeezed from them, and if it was lit with wood, one may not place a pot atop it on Shabbat until he sweeps the coals from the stove while it is still day or until he places ashes on the coals, so that the fire will not ignite on Shabbat.
The Gemara on today's daf discusses this ruling, bringing variations on the theme:
Rabba bar bar Ĥana said that Rabbi Yoĥanan said: With regard to a stove that he swept out or covered with ashes before Shabbat and subsequently reignited on Shabbat, one may leave hot water that was already completely heated and cooked food that was already completely cooked upon it, even if the coals were from the wood of a broom tree [rotem],which are very hot and long-burning.
The rotem, or broom tree, known as the desert broom, Retama raetam, is a tall bush with branches that sometimes reach the height of a tree. It grows primarily in sand and in dry riverbeds. The branches of the broom are greenish-gray, and during most of the year they do not grow leaves. The broom blooms at the end of winter with an abundance of white flowers. It was common to make coals from the roots and trunk of the broom. In the Bible (Tehillim 120:4) and in several places in the Talmud, it is emphasized that the coals made from the broom burn and retain their heat longer than other types of coals.
Shabbat 36a-b: Turning our Attention to the Laws of Cooking
11/04/2020 - 17th of Nisan, 5780
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The third perek of Massekhet Shabbat begins on today's daf and the Gemara turns its attention to the laws of cooking. Cooking on Shabbat is explicitly prohibited in the Torah, and this prohibited labor is listed among the thirty-nine primary categories of labor prohibited on Shabbat. Since cooking is generally completed as Shabbat begins, the discussion of the labor of cooking precedes the discussion of the other prohibited labors in the sequence of this tractate. This chapter occupies itself primarily with the clarification and precise definition of the prohibited labor of cooking. That undertaking carries with it numerous problems. Unlike other categories of labor, there is an interval between the action and the desired result. It is a process, and therefore the question arises: At what stage in the process can it be said that an act of cooking has been performed? Shall we say that one who undertakes any action in the course of the entire process is considered to have engaged in that prohibited labor? Or perhaps, that is the case only with regard to one who initiates the process? Moreover, since the cooking process, once initiated, continues without the need for any additional action by the one cooking, the question can be raised: Is the mere act of placing an item on the fire defined as labor, or is it considered an incomplete segment of that labor? There is a question as to whether the essence of the labor of cooking is transforming inedible into edible, unusable into usable, or whether it is the act of cooking that is prohibited, independent of the result. In practical terms, is it prohibited to further cook a cooked item? The fundamental definition of cooking requires clarification and precision. In a very general sense, one could posit that cooking or baking are activities that render substances fit for use by means of heat. However, that leaves open the question of whether any activity that renders a substance usable is considered cooking, or perhaps, the essence of cooking is merely the softening or hardening of that substance? It is also important to clarify whether the prohibited labor of cooking applies to all substances, or perhaps only to food, or perhaps only to specific types of food. Additionally, it must be ascertained whether the definition of cooking is restricted to the use of fire or whether it extends to other sources of heat. Similarly, is there a distinction between natural sources of heat and artificial ones in this context? Most of these problems are resolved in various manners in this chapter. Some are discussed in Chapter Four and some in Chapter Seven, which discusses the primary categories of prohibited labor.
Shabbat 35a-b: Public Proclamation of Shabbat
10/04/2020 - 16th of Nisan, 5780
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How did people know when Shabbat was going to begin? The Gemara relates:
The school of Rabbi Yishmael taught: Six blasts are sounded on Shabbat eve. When one begins sounding the first tekiah, the people standing and working in the fields refrained from hoeing, and from plowing and from performing all labor in the fields. And those workers who work close to the city are not permitted to enter the city until those who work farther away come, so that they will all enter together. Otherwise, people would suspect that the workers who came later continued to work after the blast. And still, at this time, the stores in the city are open and the shutters of the stores, upon which the storekeepers would arrange their merchandise in front of the stores, remain in place. When he began sounding the second blast, the shutters were removed from where they were placed and the stores were locked and in the homes, however, hot water was still cooking on the stove and pots remained in place on the stove. When he began sounding the third blast, the one charged with removing food from the stove removed it, and the one charged with insulating hot water for Shabbat so that it would not cool off insulated it, and the one charged with kindling the Shabbat lights lit. And the one sounding the shofar pauses for the amount of time it takes to fry a small fish or to stick bread to the sides of the oven, and he sounds a tekia, and sounds a terua, and sounds a tekia, and accepts Shabbat.
The shofar blasts advising the people of the imminent onset of Shabbat had to be heard throughout the city of Jerusalem and beyond, especially by those working in the fields. The Gemara, though, does not identify the location from where the shofar blasts were sounded. Josephus refers to the spot as being on one of the towers of the Temple (Wars of the Jews 4:9:12). During the archaeological excavations conducted adjacent to the Western Wall in the wake of the Six-Day War, a large stone was discovered at the southwest corner of the walls surrounding the Temple Mount, with the inscription: "To the trumpeting place to…" Apparently, it fell from a tower atop the wall and shattered during the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 CE.
Shabbat 34a-b: Responding to a Miracle
09/04/2020 - 15th of Nisan, 5780
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On yesterday's daf we learned of the incident where Rabbi Shimon criticized the Roman government and was condemned to death. The Gemara relates that Rabbi Shimon and his son hid in a cave for twelve years and survived miraculously on carob and water. The Gemara on today's daf relates that when Rabbi Shimon finally was able to leave the cave he decided to perform an act of kindness for the community as a celebration of the miracle that saved him. The Gemara relates:
He (Rabbi Shimon) said: Is there something that needs repair? They said to him: There is a place where there is uncertainty with regard to ritual impurity and the priests are troubled by being forced to circumvent it, as it is prohibited for them to become ritually impure from contact with a corpse. There was suspicion, but no certainty, that a corpse was buried there. Therefore, they were unable to definitively determine its status. Rabbi Shimon said: Is there a person who knows that there was a presumption of ritual purity here? Is there anyone who remembers a time when this place was not considered ritually impure, or that at least part of it was considered to be ritually pure? An Elder said to him: Here ben Zakkai planted and cut the teruma of lupines. In this marketplace Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai, who himself was a priest, once planted lupines that were given to him as teruma. On that basis, the conclusion can be drawn that it was definitely ritually pure. Rabbi Shimon, did so and took steps to improve the city and examined the ground. Everywhere that the ground was hard, he pronounced it ritually pure as there was certainly no corpse there, and every place that the ground was soft, he marked it indicating that perhaps a corpse was buried there. In that way, he purified the marketplace so that even priests could walk through it.
In the Jerusalem Talmud (Shevi’it 9:1) it is explained that Rabbi Shimon bar Yoĥai accomplished this miraculously. Everywhere that a corpse was buried, it would rise up from the earth. Although the Samaritans attempted to sabotage his effort, they were unsuccessful. Here, it is explained that Rabbi Shimon bar Yoĥai purified the ground by examining the texture of the soil to see whether or not the soil had been overturned at some point in the past.
Shabbat 33a-b: Rabbi Yehuda - "Head of the Speakers in Every Place"
08/04/2020 - 14th of Nisan, 5780
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In a baraita on today's daf Rabbi Yehuda is described as "head of the speakers in every place." This title leads to a discussion in the Gemara.
The Gemara asks: And why did they call him head of the speakers in every place? The Gemara relates that this resulted due to an incident that took place when Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Yosei and Rabbi Shimon were sitting, and Yehuda, son of converts, sat beside them. Rabbi Yehuda opened and said: How pleasant are the actions of this nation, the Romans, as they established marketplaces, established bridges, and established bathhouses. Rabbi Yosei was silent. Rabbi Shimon ben Yoĥai responded and said: Everything that they established, they established only for their own purposes. They established marketplaces, to place prostitutes in them; bathhouses, to pamper themselves; and bridges, to collect taxes from all who pass over them. Yehuda, son of converts, went and related their statements to his household, and those statements continued to spread until they were heard by the monarchy. They ruled and said: Yehuda, who elevated the Roman regime, shall be elevated and appointed as head of the Sages, the head of the speakers in every place. Yosei, who remained silent, shall be exiled from his home in Judea as punishment, and sent to the city of Tzippori in the Galilee. And Shimon, who denounced the government, shall be killed.
As opposed to the Greeks, the Romans did not directly impose cultural or spiritual changes on the peoples they conquered. Instead, the Romans excelled in effective organization and comprehensive building projects. In all of the lands they conquered, they expertly paved roads, many of which are intact to this day in Eretz Yisrael and in other countries. They erected bridges over rivers and streams and constructed well-planned cities and public establishments, such as bathhouses and theaters. All of these developments resulted in the improvement of the quality of life in the countries they conquered within a short period of time. Rabbi Yehuda’s praise for them is understandable. Rabbi Shimon saw all of the Roman accomplishments merely as measures to facilitate domination and exploitation of the people they ruled.
Shabbat 32a-b: Timing Heavenly Punishments
07/04/2020 - 13th of Nisan, 5780
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The Mishna at the end of yesterday's daf concludes the aggadic treatment of the topic of kindling the Shabbat lights with the teaching: For three transgressions women are punished and die during childbirth: For the fact that they are not careful in observing the laws of a menstruating woman, and in separating ĥalla from the dough, and in lighting the Shabbat lamp. This teaching is examined in some detail on today's daf where we find the Gemara first inquiring about the unique situation of childbirth and then asking about how men's transgressions are punished. The Gemara teaches: And, if so, what is different during childbirth? Why does the divine attribute of judgment punish them for dereliction in fulfillment of these mitzvot specifically then? The Gemara cites several folk sayings expressing the concept that when a person is in danger, he is punished for his sins. Rava said: If the ox fell, sharpen the knife to slaughter it. Abayye said: If the maidservant’s insolence abounds, she will be struck by a single blow as punishment for all her sins. So too, when a woman is giving birth and her suffering is great due to Eve’s sin of eating from the Tree of Knowledge, all the punishments for her own sins are added to that suffering.
And where are men examined? When are men vulnerable to judgment and held accountable for their actions? Reish Lakish said: When they are crossing a bridge. The Gemara wonders: Only when they are crossing a bridge and at no other time? Rather, say: Anything like a bridge, any place where danger is commonplace.
The fundamental concept underlying all of these statements is that only rarely do divine punishments come with no material foreshadowing. Nevertheless, the time for retribution is when one is in a dangerous situation engendered by external factors. The folk expressions cited here seek, in different ways and to varying degrees, to express the same concept: In times of distress, all of one’s outstanding debts with God are settled.
Shabbat 31a-b: Hillel and Shammai
06/04/2020 - 12th of Nisan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
On today's daf the Gemara relates a series of famous stories of non-Jews who come before the Sages Shammai and Hillel asking to convert, only to find that Shammai is unwelcoming, and Hillel encouraging. As an example, one of the stories teaches:
There was another incident involving one gentile who came before Shammai and said to Shammai: Convert me on condition that you teach me the entire Torah while I am standing on one foot. Shammai pushed him away with the builder’s cubit in his hand. This was a common measuring stick and Shammai was a builder by trade. The same gentile came before Hillel. He converted him and said to him: That which is hateful to you do not do to another; that is the entire Torah, and the rest is its interpretation. Go study.
The Maharsha explains that apparently, the intention of the gentile was to ask the Sage for a single fundamental principle, "one foot," upon which all of Judaism is based. Indeed, just as Hillel based the Torah upon this single principle, so too Rabbi Akiva and ben Azzai later attempted to formulate the same concept in different, broader terms. The phrase "That which is hateful to you do not do to another" appears in the Aramaic translation, Targum Yonatan, of the Torah verse: “And you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Vayikra 19:18). It is not a precise translation; rather, it is a limited interpretation. It does not express the positive mitzva to love another, but the prohibition, proscribing actions harmful to others. Apparently, Hillel sought to express through this principle that at the basis of the Torah are those mitzvot, which are fundamental principles that may be universally applied. It should be noted that in practice, people like the ones Hillel converted are not accepted as converts because the halakha insists that a convert accept upon himself the entire Torah without intention to accrue personal benefit. However, Hillel apparently relied on the fact that these converts could eventually accept Judaism in its entirety at a later time.