Talmud

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

Yoma 30a-b: The role of ritual immersion
11/05/2021 - 29th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna on our daf teaches that no one was permitted to enter the azarah (courtyard) to participate in the Temple service unless he first performed tevilah - immersed in a mikveh. On Yom Kippur, the kohen gadol performed this tevilah five times, as he walked back and forth between different parts of the mikdash. Rashi explains the Mishna (the Jerusalem Talmud makes this point, as well) as referring not only to someone who entered the precincts of the Temple to perform avodah (service), but to anyone who had reason to enter the sanctuary, even if he was not planning to participate in the Temple service. Some explain that this is necessary only because a kohen who is found on the premises may be invited to participate in some aspect of the avodah, and therefore must be prepared to do so. The discussion of tevilah as preparation to enter the mikdash leads the Gemara to teach of another person who needs to go to the mikveh in order to take care of his business in the Temple: a metzorah - a person who has recovered from a case of Biblical leprosy. As is taught in Vayikra 14, and elucidated upon in Massekhet Nega'im, a person who shows the signs of leprosy to a kohen is declared a metzorah. Such a person will be obligated to sit outside the community encampment until he recovers from his illness. When he sees signs of recovery, he again approaches the kohen, and if he is found to have healed, he waits a week (during which time he remains ritually defiled, but to a lesser extent than during the previous week), at which point he will do tevilah. On the following day he will go to the Temple to bring the appropriate sacrifices and will have blood from the sacrifice placed on his thumb and big toe, at which point he is considered, once again, to have fully recovered and to be ritually pure.
Yoma 29a-b: Is the thought worse than the act?
10/05/2021 - 28th of Iyyar, 5781
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 (28a) taught that the kohanim were sent to search the skies on Yom Kippur morning in order to ascertain when the sun had risen and the Temple service could begin. The explanation for this procedure was that an error had once taken place and the light from the moon had been mistaken for the light of the sun. In the course of discussing how this error could have taken place, the Gemara explains the difference between how the light of the sun is perceived, in contrast with the light of the moon, and concludes that only on a cloudy day could such a mistake have been made. This discussion leads the Gemara to quote a list of comparisons made by Rav Nahman.
The hazy light of the sun through the clouds is more damaging than the light of the sun itself...Dazzling sunlight, which shines through cracks in the clouds, is more harmful to the eyes than direct sunlight...Thoughts of transgression are worse than transgression itself...
The sin that is usually referred to by the Gemara when it uses the term aveira is a sin of a sexual nature. Thus, it appears that Rav Nahman is saying that forbidden sexual thoughts are worse than forbidden sexual acts, a statement that demands explanation. Rashi explains that this does not refer to the severity of the sin, but to the lust that accompanies thinking about the sin, which is even greater than what exists during the sinful act itself. Nevertheless, most commentaries understand the statement to be referring to the severity of the thought and the act. In the Moreh Nevuchim, the Rambam explains that the mind, the intellect, is on a much higher level than physical activities. Therefore, sinning in one’s thoughts creates greater damage to the person than does an act of sinning. The Ohr ha-Hayyim suggests that once someone has sinned, he has satisfied his inner need and is ready to begin a process of teshuvah – repentance – leading to atonement. Sinful thoughts which are never acted upon, however, never satisfy the person, and he will never try to undo or repent from them.
Yoma 28a-b: Light all the way to Hevron
09/05/2021 - 27th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The third perek of Massekhet Yoma begins on this daf . From here until the end of the Massekhta, the unique Temple service of Yom Kippur is described, from the first tevilah (ritual immersion) of the kohen gadol, until he completes the avodah (service). This perek specifically is an introduction, as it discusses the preparations and special arrangements made for the avodah, without getting into the details of the avodah itself.
Mishna: The appointed priest said to the other priests: Go out and observe if it is day and the time for slaughter has arrived. If the time has arrived, the observer says: There is light [barkai]. Matya ben Shmuel says that the appointed priest phrased his question differently: Is the entire eastern sky illuminated even to Hebron? And the observer says: Yes.
This was necessary because of an error that had been made once, when the light from the moon fooled the kohanim and they began the avodah before the appropriate time, and the korban tamid (the first sacrifice of the day) had to be destroyed. There are different opinions about the statement made by Matya ben Shmuel. According to the Rambam, Matya ben Shmuel was one of the tanna'im, and he was disagreeing with the first position in the Mishna, arguing that the question presented in order to clarify that sunrise had occurred was whether it was light in the east all the way to Hevron. Tosafot Yeshanim argues that Matya ben Shmuel was the name of the kohen who was responsible for the lotteries that were done in the Temple (his name is mentioned in that context in Massekhet Shekalim). If we accept this explanation, then he is not arguing, rather the Mishna is describing that after the first sighting of the sun, Matya ben Shmuel followed by asking whether it was light all the way to Hevron. The Meiri explains that Matya ben Shmuel's question was whether the kohen watching for the sun could see all the way to Hevron in the south. In any case, the Jerusalem Talmud points out that everyone agrees that the reference was specifically to Hevron because they wanted to invoke the city where the forefathers of the Jewish people are buried.
Yoma 27a-b: Arranging the wood
08/05/2021 - 26th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
We learned on daf 24 that there is a difference of opinion between Rav and Rabbi Levi regarding the question of whether the terumat ha-deshen could only be done by a kohen, which leads to a larger question – generally speaking, which parts of the Temple service had to be done by kohanim. According to Rav, if a Temple activity
  • that involved placing something on the altar, and
  • was a complete avodah (service) (i.e. nothing needing to be done afterwards)
was done by a non-kohen, he would be liable for death. Levi disagreed, ruling that the terumat ha-deshen – cleaning ash from the altar – was also forbidden to non-kohanim, even though it involved removing something from the altar, rather than placing something on the altar. The Gemara on our daf introduces another part of the Temple routine and asks whether it falls into the category of activities that can only be done by kohanimsiddur ha-ma'arakhah – arranging wood on the mizbe'ah (altar). Rabbi Asi quotes Rabbi Yohanan as ruling that it can only be done by a kohen. The idea of siddur ha-ma'arakhah as an essential part of the service is derived by the Gemara from a passage in Vayikra 6:5, which is understood to be a command to the kohen to arrange the wood on the altar so that the first sacrifice of the day, the korban tamid, would be brought on the new day's kindling wood. In response is a question raised by Rabbi Zeira that arranging the wood is only the beginning of the process of the daily Temple service, so why should it be so severe as to be forbidden to non-kohanim on the threat of death? The Gemara responds that Rabbi Yohanan considers it to be avodah tamah – a complete activity – since it concludes the preparations of the altar for the new day. On this point Rabbi Yohanan is in disagreement with Rav and Levi, who do not include this as one of the activities limited to kohanim, apparently because they see siddur ha-ma'arakhah as just the beginning of the avodat ha-yom (service of the day).
Yoma 26a-b: How many kohanim are needed to perform the service?
07/05/2021 - 25th of Iyyar, 5781
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 Mishnayot on today's daf  focus on the number of kohanim needed to perform the various tasks that made up the daily Temple service. Obviously, any "special events" that were going on on a given day would affect the number of kohanim that were needed. The Mishna teaches, for example, that the korban tamid, which was the first sacrifice brought every day, was brought by nine, ten, eleven or twelve kohanim, depending on the day. The korban tamid itself needed nine kohanim.
  • On Sukkot, when there also was a water libation, an extra kohen was needed to carry the jug of water.
  • The afternoon korban tamid needed eleven kohanim; the additional two kohanim carried extra wood to the altar.
  • On Shabbat there were eleven kohanim involved, two of whom carried the levonah (frankincense) for the lehem ha-panim (shewbread).
  • On Shabbat of Sukkot, there also was a kohen carrying the jug of water, so there were a maximum of twelve kohanim involved.
The Gemara teaches that the nisukh ha-mayim – the water libation on Sukkot – was only done with the morning tamid. As a proof to this a baraita is brought that recounts a fascinating story. As part of the avodah (service), the kohen who was to pour the water as part of the ceremony was instructed to raise his hand up so that it would be clear that he was doing the avodah properly. This was instituted because once a kohen poured the water on his feet instead of on the altar, and the enraged crowd pelted him with the etrogim that they were holding in their hands. The Gemara sees this as a proof that the nisukh ha-mayim was done in the morning, since the people were all carrying their etrogim. The background to this story involves the different sects that lived during the second Temple period and their approaches to the Oral Law taught by the Sages. Many of the kohanim were Tzedukim, who did not accept the traditions of the Sages. Unlike nisukh ha-yayin – the wine libation – which is clearly written in the Torah, the nisukh ha-mayim – the water libation – was a tradition handed down from Moshe on Mount Sinai, and it was not accepted by the Tzedukim. The particular story referred to in our Gemara, is described in great length in Josephus. According to him, the individual who poured the water on his feet rather than on the altar was a Hasmonean king, Alexander Yannai, who rejected the teaching of the Sages. After the people – who supported the interpretation of the Sages – pelted him with etrogim, the king summoned the non-Jewish guard, and they killed many of the people who were on the Temple grounds.
Yoma 25a-b: The daily offering
06/05/2021 - 24th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The second Mishna in this perek appears on our daf,  and it discusses the second daily lottery, which determined which of the kohanim would slaughter the morning tamid sacrifice, who would sprinkle the blood, who would clean out the interior altar, who would clean out the menorah and who would place the various pieces of the butchered animal on the altar. In all 13 different kohanim received their assignments for the day as a result of this lottery. The korban tamid  was a korban olah, which was completely burned on the altar. As with all korbanot olah, after its slaughtering, the animal was divided up into large pieces, which were brought to the altar to be sacrificed. The details of how the animal was divided, which pieces were paired together, how they were carried to the mizbe'ah, etc. are not explained here, as that is the focus of Massekhet Tamid. [caption id="attachment_10637" align="alignleft" width="300"] Priests bringing limbs to the altar[/caption] The Mishna does teach that the first parts of the animal that were brought to the altar were ha-rosh ve-ha-regel – the head and the legs. Rashi explains that the head is mainly bones, while the legs are mainly meat, so they complement each other while being sacrificed. The Meiri, on the other hand, suggests that they are both mainly bones, and as such they are put together because of their similar nature. The Jerusalem Talmud explains that these two parts of the korban were brought to the altar together as the first parts to be sacrificed because as the animal walks it stretches its neck forward and lifts its legs to move. Thus it is sacrificed in the same manner in which it walked. The description here in Massekhet Yoma of the active participation of the kohanim in the daily procedure in the Temple acts as a contrast to the avodah  of the kohen gadol on Yom Kippur, where he is the sole individual carrying out all of the avodah of that special day.
Yoma 24a-b: Limited to Kohanim Only
05/05/2021 - 23th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
What parts of the Temple service are limited specifically to kohanim and forbidden to others? The Gemara on our daf brings a difference of opinion on the matter. According to Rav, there are four activities:
  • Zerikah - Sprinkling the blood
  • Haktarah – burning the incense
  • Nisukh ha-mayim – pouring water on the altar on Sukkot
  • Nisukh ha-yayin – the wine libation on the altar.
Rabbi Levi accepts the position of Rav, and adds one more Temple activity as being limited to kohanimterumat ha-deshen – cleaning ash off of the mizbe'ah (altar) in the morning. [caption id="attachment_9544" align="alignleft" width="214"]Lighting of the menorah Lighting of the menorah[/caption] Several other activities in the Temple are mentioned as other possible avodah (service) that is limited to kohanim. As an example, lighting the menorah, which the Gemara concludes is not an avodah. The Even Shlomo asks how the Gemara can come to this conclusion, given the repetition in the Torah that describes the lighting of the menorah as an activity done by the kohanim specifically (practically, it would be impossible for someone who is not a kohen to light the menorah, since its location in the kodesh (holy, inner part of the Temple) would not allow access to anyone who is not a kohen). The Li Le-yeshuah answers that when referring to hadlakat ha-menorah (lighting the menorah), the Torah is not only talking about lighting the menorah, but also all of the preparations, including cleaning out the remnants of yesterday's flame and setting up the wicks for today's lighting. These activities are certainly not avodah, nevertheless they are the responsibility of the kohanim and not of anyone else. The Gemara does not come to a clear conclusion in the argument between Rav and Rabbi Levi, as two baraitot are quoted each of which supports a different position. The Rambam in Hilkhot Bi'at Mikdash, rules like Rav, inasmuch as the prohibition against a non-kohen performing the service in the Temple is limited to a complete avodah, and not one that is only preparatory to others – like cleaning the altar.
Yoma 23a-b: Putting Ritual Purity Above Murder
04/05/2021 - 22th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna (22a) described the competition that took place on the ramp of the mizbe'ah (altar) in order to choose the kohen who would perform the terumat ha-deshen – cleaning ash from the altar – every morning. According to the Mishna, the practice was abandoned in favor of a lottery system after one of the kohanim was pushed off the kevesh (ramp) and was injured. Our Gemara tells of an even more frightening story that was related to this competition. A baraita records that once two kohanim were racing up the ramp and one drew a knife and stabbed the other.
The father of the boy, i.e. the young priest who was stabbed, came and found that he was still convulsing.He said: May my son's death be an atonement for you. But my son is still convulsing and has not yet died, and as such, the knife, which is in his body, has not become ritually impure through contact with a corpse. If you remove it promptly, it will still be pure for future use. The Tosefta comments: This incident comes to teach you that the ritual purity of utensils was of more concern to them than the shedding of blood. Even the boy's father voiced more concern over the purity of the knife than over the death of his child.
This story indicates the low level to which the priesthood had fallen towards the end of the Second Temple period, that they were more concerned with the laws of ritual purity than the fact that someone had been murdered. The baraita further records that a kohen named Rabbi Tzadok stood up and lectured the assembled people, comparing the murder that took place to a case of eglah arufah (see Devarim 21:1-9) – the ceremony that was done in a case where a dead body is found between two cities, and the murderer cannot be found. The leaders of both cities come as representatives of their respective cities to state that their city did all it could to protect this person, and to ask for atonement. The Gemara points out that the case in the Temple was not truly analogous. In our case, the identity of the murderer was known, and the murder took place in Jerusalem, a city that is excluded from the regulations of eglah arufah. The Gemara explains that the purpose of the analogy was to make the people realize the severity of what had happened. As the Ritva explains, if in the case of eglah arufah, where it is not clear that anyone from the nearby city was responsible for the man's death, nevertheless the city's representatives had to accept a level of responsibility, in our case there is certainly a need for soul-searching after such a murder had taken place. It appears that the Rabbi Tzadok of this story lived at the very end of the Second Temple period, and is the same individual about whom the Gemara in Gittin relates that he fasted for 40 years in the hope that the Temple would be saved. The Gemara in Gittin also tells that one of Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai's requests from the Emperor Vespasian was to send doctors to heal Rabbi Tzadok. Nevertheless, some identify Rabbi Tzadok as someone who lived in a much earlier period.
Yoma 22a-b: Racing to Serve God
03/05/2021 - 21th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
There is a long-standing debate among the commentaries as to whether the Kohen Gadol performed every part of the Temple service on Yom Kippur, or if other kohanim participated in performing parts of the service that are not directly connected with the unique avodat Yom ha-Kippurim (Day of Atonement service). The Ramban argues that the second perek of Massekhet Yoma, which begins on our daf, appears to support the position that other kohanim were involved as well, since the entire discussion in the perek revolves around how to choose which kohen will perform what part of the avodah. Others argue that this is simply a discussion of the procedure that took place on other days, and it is brought here as a tangent, since the last Mishna in the first perek discussed terumat ha-deshen, or cleaning the ash off of the altar. In any case, the Mishna on our daf teaches that there was a race every morning in the Temple, as all of the kohanim interested in performing the terumat ha-deshen would line up and race up the ramp to the top of the altar. The one who arrived first had the honor of cleaning the ash.
Initially, that was the procedure; however, an incident occurred where both of them were equal as they were running and ascending on the ramp, and one of them shoved another and he fell and his leg was broken. And once the court saw that people were coming to potential danger, they instituted that priests would remove ashes from the altar only by means of a lottery. There were four lotteries there, in the Temple, on a daily basis to determine the priests privileged to perform the various services, and this, determining which priest would remove the ashes, was the first lottery.
The Me'iri explains that this curious method of choosing the kohen, the race, stemmed from the fear that no one would want to perform this particular avodah, as cleaning the ash from the altar hardly seems to be a great honor. Nevertheless, other commentaries ask how such a contest could be instituted in the Temple, a place where an atmosphere of solemnity should prevail. The Tosafot Yeshanim explain that this wasn't a normal race. In fact, the kohanim were obligated to walk up the ramp as they ordinarily did, placing heel in front of toe and again, heel in front of toe. The kohen who succeeded in doing this most quickly in a dignified manner was crowned the winner and rewarded with the opportunity to clear the altar to begin the day's Temple service.
Yoma 21a-b: The Miracles of the Temple
02/05/2021 - 20th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Rav Yehuda taught in the name of Rav that when the Jewish people came to Jerusalem to fulfill the commandment of aliya la-regel (pilgrimage) on the holidays of Pesah, Shavu'ot and Sukkot, there was always enough space for everyone to bow at the appropriate time, even though there was little room on the Temple grounds and people needed to stand close together. This was one of the ten miracles that are recorded by the Mishna in Massekhet Avot (see Chapter 5). These miracles include:
  • No woman ever miscarried from smelling the meat of the sacrifices
  • The meat of the sacrifices never spoiled
  • No fly was ever seen in the Temple
  • The High Priest never became impure before Yom Kippur
  • There was never a problem with the Omer that was cut, neither with the shtei ha-lehem (the 2 loaves offered on Shavu’ot), nor with the lehem ha-panim
  • The people would be crowded together, and yet would have room to bow down
  • Neither snake nor scorpion ever injured someone in Jerusalem
  • No one ever complained that there was no room for him in Jerusalem.
Although these are all described as miracles, in his commentary on Aggada, Shem-Tov ibn Shaprut argues that they can all be explained rationally. In his opinion, these "miracles" were not unnatural events, but rather it was the care and concern engendered by the holiness of the Mikdash that kept these things from taking place. For example, the kohanim were so careful and committed to their work that they made sure that the sacrifices were brought in a timely fashion to prevent the meat from spoiling or attracting flies, the communal sacrifices were never found to have problems, and the Kohen Gadol never became impure. Jerusalem was such a popular and busy place that snakes and scorpions never found ruins or abandoned areas to breed. And thanks to the high level of friendliness and concern for others, the people looked out for one another and made sure that there was always room for everyone
Yoma 20a-b: Keriat Hagever
01/05/2021 - 19th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
On Yom Kippur, as on every day, the very first activity in the Temple was terumat ha-deshen - removing ash from the altar. The Mishna on our daf  teaches that on an ordinary day, the terumat ha-deshen took place around the time of keriat hagever, but on Yom Kippur it was done earlier, at about midnight. The Gemara asks a simple question of definition. What is keriat hagever? Two answers are offered by the Gemara:
  • Rav says it is the time when the appointed person announces that it is time.
  • Rabbi Sheila says that it is the time when the rooster crows.
Some of the commentaries understand that this is a question of semantics, and that the time of the terumat ha-deshen would be the same, no matter how the term keriat hagever is defined. The Me'iri, however, argues that the crowing of the rooster begins well before the official time, and that there is a practical difference between the opinions of Rav and Rabbi Sheila. Our Gemara does not reach a conclusion about this argument. In the Jerusalem Talmud a proof is brought to support Rav. It appears that the name of the individual whose job it was to announce the time for the terumat ha-deshen was "ben gever," which could not possibly mean that he was the son of a rooster. Others point out that the halakha at the time the Temple was standing forbade raising chickens in Jerusalem, making it more likely that the term keriat hagever refers to the man's announcement.
Rav happened to come to the place where Rabbi Sheila was the most prominent local Torah scholar and Rav was not yet known. There was no disseminator to stand before Rabbi Sheila to disseminate his lecture to the public. Rav stood before him to disseminate the lecture, in the course of which Rabbi Sheila mentioned keriat hagever. Rav interpreted the concept for the audience and said: What is the meaning of keriat hagever? It means the call of the man. Rabbi Sheila said to him: And let the Master say it is the call of the rooster.
This then led Rabbi Sheila to enter into a discussion with him, until he realized that Rav had taken the position of amora on his behalf. It was common practice in the time of the Mishna and the Gemara that the head of the academy would lecture while sitting, usually in Hebrew. It was the task of the amora, or meturgeman, to translate the lecture into Aramaic and repeat it in a loud voice to the listeners. The sages of the Gemara called themselves amora'im because they saw their job as merely clarifying and translating the teachings of the true masters - the tanna'im.
Yoma 19a-b: The High Priest's Oath
30/04/2021 - 18th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
According to the Mishna (18b), when the preparations of the Kohen Gadol were done, he was transferred by the Sages to the priestly elders who had him take an oath that his performance of the service would be done according to the teachings of the Sages. The Mishna concludes that following the oath, both the Kohen Gadol and the elders who executed it turned away and cried.
The Gemara explains: He turned aside and cried due to the indignity that they suspected him of being a Sadducee; and they turned aside and cried, as Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: One who suspects the innocent of indiscretion is afflicted in his body. The High Priest might in fact be beyond reproach and they may have suspected him falsely.
The Sadducees (Tzedukim) were one of a number of sects that lived during Second Temple times, who had different interpretations of the passages that described the avodat Yom ha-Kippurim (Day of Atonement service), and they wanted to ensure that he would carry out the service properly. It was a particular concern because some of the essential parts of the service took place in the Holy of Holies where no one could see what was being done aside from the High Priest himself. According to our Gemara, the elders cried because they were forced into a situation where they had to actively suspect someone of bad intentions, and Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi taught that someone who suspects another without cause will suffer for having done so. According to the Jerusalem Talmud the elders cried because of the deterioration of the Second Temple period, when even the High Priest could not be trusted to carry out the Temple service properly. The main argument between the Sages and the Tzedukim revolved around the definition of the passage (Vayikra 16:2) "for I appear in the cloud upon the ark-cover." The Tzedukim interpreted this to mean that the incense cloud of the ketoret had to be lit by the kohen before entering the Holy of Holies (the Sages understood that the ketoret was lit only after the Kohen Gadol was inside). According to the Me'iri, lighting the ketoret outside appears to be a form of avodah zara, as it looks like the kohen is lighting the incense to honor a power outside the kodesh kodashim as well as the One inside the Holy of Holies.
Yoma 18a-b: The High Priest's Diet
29/04/2021 - 17th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna on our daf  teaches about the Kohen Gadol's final preparations before the Yom Kippur service. Aside from reviewing the text of the commandments as described in the Torah (Vayikra 16), the Sages would also bring him the various types of animals that were going to be sacrificed so that he would be able to practice. They also monitored his diet on erev Yom Kippur, limiting the amount of food that he ate so that he would not become tired. The Gemara quotes a series of baraitot that describe other limitations that were placed on his diet. Among the items that are mentioned - milk products, eggs, and wine - are things that the sages feared might bring about a seminal emission, which would make him tameh (ritually defiled) and unable to perform the avodah - the Temple service. The Jerusalem Talmud asks why this is a concern, since the Talmud lists ten miracles that took place in the Temple during its years of operation (see Yoma 21a), and one of them was that the High Priest never became a ba'al keri (someone who experiences a seminal emission). The first answer given simply explains that, in general, we cannot rely on miracles and need to do our utmost to avoid potentially dangerous situations. The second answer given distinguishes between the first Temple, when the priests were on a high level, and the Second Temple, when they were not deserving of such miracles. [caption id="attachment_9511" align="alignleft" width="300"]Arugula leaves (gargir) Arugula leaves (gargir)[/caption] Another food that was restricted was the gargir. Eruca sativa, is an annual grass that grows to a height of 15-60 centimeters. During the Second Temple period the seeds of this plant were used in place of mustard. It grew both as a domesticated plant and in the wild throughout Israel. In several places in the Talmud it is mentioned as being a particularly good medicine for the eyes.
Yoma 17a-b: The High Priest Chooses His Portion
28/04/2021 - 16th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In the second perek of Massekhet Yoma we will learn how the different jobs in the Temple were divided up among the kohanim who were working in the Mikdash at a given time. As we learned earlier (14a), the Mishna in our perek teaches that during the week before Yom Kippur it is the Kohen Gadol who burns the ketoret, arranges the menorah, and sacrifices the korban tamid (“perpetual” daily offering) on the altar. The Mishna adds that throughout the year it is the prerogative of the Kohen Gadol to choose which korbanot he wants to sacrifice and be the first to choose his portion from the korbanot. The Gemara on our daf quotes a baraita that describes how the Kohen Gadol would walk through the Temple and claim the right to sacrifice a given korban by saying, "I will sacrifice that Olah" or "I will sacrifice that Minha." He chooses what portion he will receive by saying, "I will eat that Hatat" or "I will eat that Asham." Similarly, he receives one of the two loaves that are brought on Shavu'ot and four or five of the loaves of shewbread that is distributed weekly from the shulhan. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi's position is that he always gets five, since he deserves half of the ten loaves that are distributed, based on the passage in Vayikra 24:9 "And it shall be for Aharon and his sons," which he understands to mean that Aharon (the High Priest) shares equally with his sons (the other Kohanim). The Rashash points out that there is support for the idea that the Kohen Gadol received five loaves of the lehem ha-panim from the story related in Sefer Shmuel (21:4) when David is running away from King Sha'ul, and arrives in Nov, the city of kohanim. Upon asking for food, Akhimelekh, who was apparently the Kohen Gadol at the time, tells David that he only has "holy bread." David agrees to take the lehem ha-panim (after assuring Akhimelekh that his men are in a state of ritual purity), and he receives the five loaves that he requested.
Yoma 16a-b: The Layout of the Temple
27/04/2021 - 15th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Much of this daf  is devoted to a description of the plan of The Temple Mount itself, with detailed descriptions of the area from the Ezrat Yisrael (Court of the Israelites) and south of it. The furthest north that a Jewish person who was not a kohen could enter was the Ezrat Yisrael . Kohanim were allowed in the Ezrat Kohanim (The Priests’ Courtyard), as well. Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya'akov reported on the set-up of the Temple: The Ezrat Nashim was an open square of 135 cubits by 135 cubits. In each corner of the square were small, open courtyards, each of which was 40 square cubits. Each of these courtyards served a specific purpose:
  • Lishkat ha-nezirim was where the nazir would have his hair cut and burned under the pot where his sacrifice was being cooked.
  • Lishkat dir ha-etzim was where kohanim who could not perform the Temple service due to a mum (physical blemish) were employed in checking the wood for worms or bugs. The Me'iri explains that this was necessary either because nothing non-Kosher could be brought on the altar, or because disgusting things would be inappropriate to be brought on the mizbe'ah (altar)
  • Lishkat ha-metzora'im was where people who recovered from Biblical leprosy would go to the mikveh
  • Lishkat bet shemanya was where the oil and wine used for the offerings and libations were stored.
[su_row][su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_9492" align="alignleft" width="237"]Women's courtyard and its chambers Women's courtyard and its chambers[/caption] [/su_column] [su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_9493" align="alignleft" width="300"]Chamber of the Nazirites Chamber of the Nazirites[/caption] [/su_column] [/su_row]
With regard to the southwest chamber, Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya'akov said: I forgot what purpose it would serve. Abba Shaul says: They would place wine and oil there for the meal-offerings and libations, and it was called the Chamber of the House of Oils. From this mishna it may be inferred that the tanna who taught the mishnayot in tractate Middot is Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya'akov, as that is why the mishna finds it necessary to mention that he forgot the purpose of one of the chambers.  
[caption id="attachment_9494" align="alignright" width="300"]Altar in the middle of the courtyard, according to Rambam Altar in the middle of the courtyard, according to Rambam[/caption] With all the detail that appears in the Gemara, there are still a number of things that are left unexplained. For example, the azara - an area that included not only the altar, but the area of the slaughterhouse, as well - is not clearly detailed. The Gemara teaches that the altar was in the middle of the azara, opposite the entrance to the Holy and the Holy of Holies. Since there had to be room for the apparatus of the slaughterhouse, including taba'ot (rings to hold the animals), shulhanot (tables on which the animals were butchered), and nanasim (hooks on which the animals were hung), the Rambam explains that only part of the altar was opposite the entrance to the ulam (Sanctuary) and the heikhal (the Temple proper). The kevesh (ramp) leading to the mizbe'ah (altar) was to the south, leaving room on the northern side for the tables, rings and hooks.
Yoma 15a-b: The Sprinkling of the Blood
26/04/2021 - 14th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The main atonement offered by a sacrifice is brought about by sprinkling – called a matanah (placing) – the blood of the sacrifice on the altar. The matanah was done differently depending on the sacrifice. A regular korban olah would have the blood sprinkled on two corners of the altar so that it would splash on two sides each time, in order to assure that all sides of the mizbe'ah (altar) had gotten blood on them (shetei matanot she-hen arba = two "placings" that are four). The altar had a red line running around it called the hut ha-sikra which indicated the upper and lower halves of the mizbe'ah. In the case of the olah described above, the blood was sprinkled on the lower half. In the case of an animal that was brought as a sin offering, the blood would be sprinkled on the top of the altar, near each of the raised corners, where each side was sprinkled once (arba matanot = four "placings"). Rabbi Shimon Ish HaMitzpa suggests in our Gemara that the blood of the daily sacrifice – the olat tamid – should be put below the hut ha-sikra with two separate matanot, almost a compromise position between the ordinary olah and the hatat. To contrast this placing of the blood, the Gemara points to a Mishna later on in Massekhet Yoma (53b) which describes how the Kohen Gadol entered the Holy of Holies and sprinkled the blood towards the kaporet covering the aron (ark) "one upwards and seven downwards." In that case there was no strict line demarcating the difference between the upper and lower halves, and the Gemara explains that he sprinkled the blood ke-matzlif. The Me'iri explains this expression as meaning that he placed the blood without paying particular attention to whether they were directly above or below one another. Another explanation given by the Tosafot ha-Rosh suggests that the difference was the direction in which the Kohen Gadol held his hand – whether he held it upwards or downwards.
Yoma 14a-b: The Morning Temple Service
25/04/2021 - 13th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The second Mishna in the massekhet appears on our daf and it puts forward the basic curriculum that was offered to the High Priest during the week that he was in training prior to his officiating at the Yom Kippur Temple service. Under ordinary circumstances, the everyday activities in the Temple were performed by one of the kohanim whose turn to participate in the avodah (Temple service) fell out on a given day. During the week before Yom Kippur, however, the Kohen Gadol performed all of these services himself. The Mishnah teaches that he:
  • Burned the daily incense (see Shemot 30:1-8) half of which was done in the morning, with the other half in the afternoon.
  • Arranged the wicks in the menorah (see Shemot 30:7) which involved cleaning out the ashes from the previous day's wicks. Some say that it also included burning off whatever remained of the oil so that the menorah would be ready to be lit in the evening.
  • Sacrificed the korban tamid on the altar.
The Gemara is concerned with the order of the morning Temple service as described in the Mishna. It appears from our Mishna that the ketoret comes before setting up the menorah, while the Mishna in Tamid seems to have the order the other way around. Rav Huna suggests that the author of Massekhet Tamid was Rabbi Shimon Ish HaMitzpa, which could explain discrepancies between the different versions. Rabbi Shimon Ish HaMitzpa appears very rarely in the sources, but we do know that he lived during the period of Rabban Gamliel ha-Zaken while the Second Temple was still standing. From our Gemara it appears that he was recognized as the individual who edited the basic Mishnayot in a given massekhet, with other sages only adding and editing some of it further. The conclusion of the Gemara is that Rabbi Shimon Ish HaMitzpa is not the primary author of Massekhet Tamid, as some of his positions do not match those of the massekhet. What is clear, however, is that it is not uncommon for the Gemara to assume that the majority of a given massekhet was authored by a single sage, with only minor additions or clarifications from others.
Yoma 13a-b: What, Then Happens to the Replacement?
24/04/2021 - 12th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The first Mishna of the massekhet (2a) taught that a "replacement" kohen was appointed in order to ensure that there would be a High Priest who could perform the Yom Kippur service in the event that something were to happen to the Kohen Gadol. What happens to a kohen who replaces the High Priest when the High Priest recovers and can once again serve in the Temple? The Gemara (12b) brings a tosefta in which Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yosei disagree about such a case. According to Rabbi Meir, the original Kohen Gadol returns to his position, and his replacement continues to keep all of the rules and regulations of the Kohen Gadol. Rabbi Yosei rules that the original Kohen Gadol returns to his position, and that his replacement can no longer serve in the Temple at all. He cannot serve as the High Priest because the presence of two Kohanim Gedolim would lead to enmity between them; he cannot return to the position of a regular kohen because of the principle ma'alin ba-kodesh ve-lo moridin – we raise people to higher levels of sanctity, but do not bring them down. The Gemara on our daf rules like Rabbi Yosei against Rabbi Meir, noting that even Rabbi Yosei agrees that if he were to perform the Temple service it would be acceptable after the fact, and that he could serve as the High Priest upon the passing of the Kohen Gadol. Several questions are raised by the commentaries regarding the Gemara's ruling. Tosafot points out that it is rather unusual to find the Gemara offering a ruling on a topic that is not pertinent in the contemporary period. This ruling, after all is hilkhita le-mishiha – a rule applicable in the Messianic age. The R"i ha-Lavan asks why there is any need to state a ruling like Rabbi Yosei, given the Talmudic principle that we follow Rabbi Yosei in all of his arguments with Rabbi Meir. With regard to the first question, some suggest that this discussion does have contemporary application, specifically in a case where a community leader is incapacitated and replaced, only to recover his abilities. How should he and his replacement be treated? Perhaps we can derive some direction from this discussion in the Gemara. Some attempt to answer the two questions by turning them against one another. Since the question is not one that applies to a real situation today, we cannot apply the normal rules of following Rabbi Yosei against Rabbi Meir, forcing the Gemara to explicitly state that the ruling is like him.
Yoma 12a-b: Dividing up Jerusalem
23/04/2021 - 11th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Upon entering the Land of Israel, each tribe received a portion appropriate to its needs. Which shevet (tribe) received the city of Jerusalem? A quick review of a map indicates that Jerusalem was split between the tribes of Yehuda (to the south) and Binyamin (to the north). Our Gemara argues that there is a disagreement between the tanna'im. The Tanna Kamma believes that Jerusalem was a separate entity, and that it was not divided between the shevatim; Rabbi Yehuda argues that Jerusalem was divided, and, in fact the border between Yehuda and Binyamin ran through the Temple itself, with the Temple Mount offices on Yehuda's side and the sanctuary and Holy of Holies on Binyamin's. A baraita that is brought describes how there was also a "panhandle" of sorts that encroached northward and included the area of the altar within the official boundaries of shevet Yehuda. The Si'ah Yitzhak explains that all opinions agree that the area where the City of Jerusalem was built had originally been split between Yehuda and Binyamin. The disagreement in our Gemara is whether when the decision was made to make Jerusalem the spiritual center of the Jewish people the entire city became a separate entity, or perhaps Jerusalem remained within the confines of the two shevatim, and only the area of the Temple itself had extraterritorial status. There are some sources that do not place the altar entirely within the boundaries of shevet Yehuda, rather within shevet Binyamin, with the exception of the south-eastern corner that was in Yehuda. Even so, the Gemara relates a tradition that Binyamin himself "saw" (apparently in a prophetic vision) that the altar – or a significant part of it – would not be in his portion, and was so disturbed by this that as a consolation prize he became the host (ushpizekhan) to the Almighty in that the Holy of Holies was built in his portion.
Yoma 11a-b: The Mitzva of Mezuza
22/04/2021 - 10th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara on our daf continues the discussion of the mitzva of mezuzot, offering examples of doorways that might not be obligated in mezuza for a variety of reasons. One baraita that is quoted by the Gemara rules that a Beit haKnesset as well as a house belonging to a woman or a house that is owned by two or more partners is obligated in mezuza. In response to the question Peshita!? – isn't this obvious!? – the Gemara argues that we may have thought that the passage obligating beitekhah ("your house" in the singular, masculine – see Devarim 11:20) limits the mitzva to a single, male owner. Since, however, the mitzva of mezuza offers the promise of a long life (Devarim 11:21), it is applied to everyone who deserves and desires such – including women. Many commentaries ask why this particular passage is chosen for distinction. Given that most of the Torah is written in the masculine, yet is applied to all Jews, why should we make a particular point of emphasizing that this mitzva may only have been applied to men? The Gevurot Ari points out that we are dealing with a unique case. The entire parasha was written in the plural, with the single exception of the passage about mezuza, which is written in the masculine. Thus it is reasonable to consider the possibility that it refers specifically to men. Another rule taught on this daf is the obligation to have mezuzot checked twice every seven years in a private home, and twice every 50 years in public places. Rashi explains the difference based on the principle that we try to keep from disturbing the public. The Sefer HaEshkol says that it is a practical issue. A mezuza in a public place is seen by all, and if there was a problem with it, it would be noticed by someone who would bring it to the attention of the authorities. The Rosh argues that checking a public mezuza carries with it an element of danger, an explanation that fits in with a story brought in the Gemara.
There was an incident involving an examiner [artavin], who was examining mezuzot in the upper marketplace of Tzippori during a period when decrees were issued against the Jewish people, and a Roman official [kasdor] found him and collected a fine of one thousand zuz from him.
Yoma 10a-b: Mezuzot in the Beit HaMikdash
21/04/2021 - 9th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Did the doorways in the Beit HaMikdash have mezuzot on their doorposts? According to the baraita on our daf  most of the offices in the Beit HaMikdash did not have mezuzot. The exception was the lishkat parhedrin, which, as we learned in the Mishna (2a) at the beginning of the massekhet, served as the residence of the High Priest during the week of preparations prior to Yom HaKippurim, thus obligating it in the mitzva of mezuza. Rabbi Yehuda argues that there were many offices in the Temple that served as residences, and did not have mezuzot. He claims that the mezuza on the door of the lishkat parhedrin was a special gezeira. The Gemara asks why, according to Rabbi Yehuda, the offices in the Temple did not need mezuzot even if they served as residences. Rava suggests that Rabbi Yehuda demands that a house be built for use throughout the year in order for it to be obligated in a mezuza. Since the Temple residences were not used on a regular basis, they would not be obligated. The Gemara does not ask a similar question on the Tanna Kamma's position that only the lishkat parhedrin was obligated in the mitzva of mezuza. The Si'ah Yitzhak explains that the lishkat parhedrin was unique in that it was built to be the temporary home of the High Priest from the very beginning of its existence, obligating it in a mezuza. The other offices, even if they were occasionally used for one of the kohanim to stay overnight, were not built with that purpose in mind, so it was obvious in such cases that there was no obligation of mezuza. The conclusion of the Gemara is that the difference between the Tanna Kamma and Rabbi Yehuda is based on a disagreement about dirah ba'al korhah – a house in which you live against your will. The Tanna Kamma believes that such a house is still obligated in mezuza, while Rabbi Yehuda rules that such dwelling place is not obligated in mezuza. Thus, the Kohen Gadol who lives in the lishkat parhedrin because of the mitzva, and not by his own free will, would not be obligated in mezuza according to Rabbi Yehuda – nor would other kohanim who live in the Temple offices. It is only to keep people from saying that the High Priest is kept in prison that a gezeira was made to put a mezuza on the door.
Yoma 9a-b: And For This They Were Destroyed
20/04/2021 - 8th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara on our daf discusses the destruction of two Temples, as well as the Mishkan that stood in Shiloh for a period of time after the Jewish people entered the Land of Israel. Aside from the wars that brought about the physical destruction of the house of God in each of these cases, the Gemara quotes a well-known tosefta that explains the underlying reasons for their destruction. According to the tosefta, the First Temple was destroyed because of the three cardinal sins of idol worship, forbidden sexual relations, and bloodshed that existed during that period. The Second Temple, however, was destroyed during a period when the people were involved in Torah study and fulfillment of the commandments. In that case, the tosefta explains, the underlying cause for its destruction was the sin'at hinam – wanton hatred – that existed between the people. The tosefta concludes that we can derive from this that sin'at hinam is considered to be as severe as the three cardinal sins of idol worship, forbidden sexual relations, and bloodshed. With regard to the Mishkan in Shiloh, R Yohanan ben Torta explains that there were two problems - gilui arayot and bizyon kodashim – forbidden sexual relations and degradation of consecrated items. In this case the problems were not general societal ones, rather they were focused on the behavior of Hofni and Pinhas, the sons of Eli the High Priest at that time (see Shmuel 12-26). These kohanim clearly did not see the korbanot as being a lofty religious ideal, rather they saw them as an opportunity to eat the meat of the sacrifices, as indicated in I Shmuel 15-16. With regard to sexual impropriety, a simple reading of I Shmuel 22 seems to indicate that they "lay with the women" who came to bring sacrifices. Nevertheless Rabbi Shmuel bar Nahmani quotes Rabbi Yohanan as rejecting the simple reading, arguing that their sin was in holding off the sacrifices of women who had given birth until the next day, forcing them to stay overnight in Shiloh. Although halakha permits a women to live with her husband following childbirth even if she has not yet brought her sacrifice, Rabbenu Elyakim explains that being forced to stay over in Shiloh away from her husband was considered the moral equivalent of sexual impropriety. According to the Me'iri during Temple times the tradition was that wives did not sleep with their husbands until after the sacrifice was brought. Thus, sacrificing the korban the next day kept these women from returning to their husbands. The Ria"f explains that being forced to stay overnight in Shiloh is the intent of the passage that describes Hofni and Pinhas as sleeping with the women, that is to say, in Shiloh, together with them.
Yoma 8a-b: The Chamber of Parhedrin
19/04/2021 - 7th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
According to the Mishna (2a), a week prior to Yom Kippur the Kohen Gadol was isolated in an office in the Temple - the lishkat parhedrin - where he received training for the Yom Kippur service.
It was taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yehuda said: And was it called the Chamber of Parhedrin, the chamber for the annual royal appointees? Wasn't it called the Chamber of Balvatei, the chamber for ministers and council heads? Rather, initially, during the era of Shimon HaTzaddik and his colleagues, who were rewarded with long lives due to their righteousness, they would call it the Chamber of Balvatei, a term connoting significance, since it was a place designated for the High Priest. However, because people were giving money in order to be appointed to the High Priesthood, the position was filled by unworthy individuals. Due to their wickedness, they did not survive the year, and they were replaced every twelve months like the parhedrin who are replaced every twelve months. Therefore the chamber was called disparagingly the Chamber of Parhedrin. Since the High Priest was replaced every year, the new appointee would renovate the chamber to reflect his own more elaborate tastes.
The term parhedrin referred to a Roman official who was appointed to a position for a single year term. This was commonplace whether the individual was elected by the Senate or if he acquired the position by paying off the right people. Among the officials appointed by this method were those who were responsible for controlling prices on a variety of goods and services. It was not uncommon for people in this position to try to acquire significant wealth by collecting exorbitant taxes during their short terms, well beyond the amount prescribed by Roman law. The baraita refers to a period during the Second Temple when the Kohen Gadol was appointed based on the amount paid to the person in charge; during that period a different person was appointed every year, leading to the comparison with the Roman official. According to Rashi, the need to appoint a new Kohen Gadol every year stemmed from the fact that such people, who aspired to a position for which they were not worthy, invariably died during the course of the year. The Rid explains that it was simply like the case of the Roman officials - the appointments were paid for only for a single year. Some commentaries argue that it was not the Kohen Gadol who was replaced every year, but rather it was the office itself. Since the occupants of the position of Kohen Gadol were more interested in their honor than in the spiritual importance of the position, each of them tore down the office and rebuilt it to show off their wealth and position of authority.
Yoma 7a-b: Bringing Sacrifices When the Community is Impure
18/04/2021 - 6th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Generally speaking someone who is tameh - has become ritually defiled by contact -cannot participate in the Temple service in any way. There is, however, an exception: the case of tumah hutrah be-tzibur - if the majority of the Jewish people are tameh, then the sacrificial service can take place, performed by kohanim who themselves are tameh. Most of our daf  is devoted to an examination of the disagreement between Rav Nahman and Rav Sheshet with regard to the question of tumah hutrah be-tzibur - how to understand the rule permitting sacrifices to be brought when the majority of the community is tameh. Rav Nahman explains that tumah hutrah be-tzibur means that the rules of tumah simply do not apply under these unusual circumstances. According to Rav Sheshet, however, the rule is really that tumah dehuyah be-tzibur - not that the Torah totally permits it, rather that the need to bring sacrifices in this case "pushes aside" the existing prohibition about tumah, even as the prohibition remains. To explain this concept, it is important to note that the question of hutrah (permitted) vs. dehuyah (pushed aside) is not unique to questions about ritual purity in the Temple and its sacrifices. We find a similar discussion with regard to the rules of Shabbat, when a number of different circumstances will permit melakhot - activities on Shabbat - that are, ordinarily, forbidden. Regarding Shabbat we find that approaches differ based on the reason that the activity needs to be done. When communal sacrifices are brought in the Temple on Shabbat it is clear that Shabbat is hutrah. Such activities are totally permitted. On the other hand, potential life-and-death situations, when we certainly will allow activities to be done on Shabbat to save the individual, are likely considered dehuyah. It is thus important to limit activities to those melakhot that are essential, and anything that can be done without transgressing forbidden activities on Shabbat should be done in that way (see Shulhan Arukh Orah Hayyim 328 for a discussion of these issues).
Yoma 6a-b: The Sequestering of the High Priest
17/04/2021 - 5th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we learned in the Mishna (2a) the High Priest is kept in one of the Temple offices for the week prior to Yom Kippur. Aside from training for the service that he is to perform on the Day of Atonement, this also keeps him away from his house, where there is a possibility that he may become ritually defiled by contact with others.
With regard to the sequestering of the High Priest, the Gemara asks: And before you remove him from the potential of impurity of his house, remove him from the potential of the more severe impurity imparted by a corpse. The Sages should have instituted an ordinance prohibiting visitors to the High Priest lest one die while in his chamber and render him impure.
The Gemara offers a variety of explanations why we do not totally limit his contact with others. Rashi's explanation of the Gemara's question is that someone may enter his office in the Temple and die, so the suggestion is that contact with anyone should be limited. Some commentaries argue that Rashi's explanation is difficult, both because the Talmud does not usually concern itself with the unlikely possibility that someone will die, and also because we know that the author of our Mishna specifically excluded that possibility, when he rejects Rabbi Yehuda's opinion that we need to secure an additional wife for the Kohen Gadol lest his first wife pass away. In explaining Rashi, the Gevurot Ari argues that we must distinguish between a situation where the question is whether a specific individual may die, and one where there is a group of people and the question is whether one person from amongst the group will pass away. Since many people visit the Kohen Gadol in his office in the week prior to Yom Kippur, the Gemara is within its rights to suggest that perhaps one of them will die. There are those who suggest an alternative interpretation of the Gemara. Rabbenu Yehonatan argues that the Gemara is simply suggesting that we limit the High Priest's contact with others, in case one of them is tameh met and will spread the defilement to others. According to the R"i ha-Lavan we move the Kohen Gadol to the Mikdash because he is much less likely to come into contact with the defilement of a dead body there, whereas at home the likelihood is much greater.
Yoma 5a-b: When in Mourning at the Inauguration
16/04/2021 - 4th of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The week of preparations for consecrating the Mishkan in the desert (Vayikra 9) ends with the tragic story of the death of Aharon's sons, Nadav and Avihu (see Vayikra 10). Ordinarily, the death of a close relative gives someone the status of an onein - a high level of mourning - whose focus on caring for proper burial limits participation in normal daily activities, including many mitzvot. For kohanim specifically, an onein would not participate in the Temple service, nor eat from the sacrifices. In the case of the week of the milu'im (inauguration), the Torah records a disagreement between Moshe and Aharon's family about the level of participation they should have in the ceremonies following the death of two of Aharon's children. The Gemara on our daf examines the disagreement and its background. A baraita is quoted that points out Moshe's repeated use of the term tzivah - commanded - on this day, with regard to:
  • the special minha that was brought for on the occasion of the consecration of the Mishkan (see Vayikra 10:12-13).
  • the korban hatat that was part of the Rosh Hodesh service (the Mishkan was consecrated on Rosh Hodesh Nisan, see Vayikra 10:18).
  • the korban shelamim that was brought by the leader of each tribe (this is described in Bamidbar 7:16; the command to eat it appears in Vayikra 10:14-15).
According to the baraita, the difference of opinion between Moshe and Aharon stems from Moshe's initial command that the sacrifices be eaten by Aharon and his sons, even though they were in a situation of aninut. He explained that the consecration of the Mishkan was so important that God commanded them to continue their participation even though Nadav and Avihu had died. When Moshe discovered that the korban hatat of Rosh Hodesh had not been eaten, but had instead been burned (Vayikra 10:16), he demanded to know why the commandment had not been carried out. Aharon distinguished between the special minha that was brought because of the Tabernacle consecration (which had to be eaten) and the korban hatat of Rosh Hodesh that was not part of the special ceremony (which did not have to be eaten). Moshe admits that Aharon was correct, but insists that with regard to the other sacrifices there was a specific command of God that they must be eaten. The Rosh points out that this explanation does not fit into the simple order of the pesukim, which has the sacrifice on Rosh Hodesh as the last one discussed. He applies the well-known rule ein mukdam u'me'uhar ba-Torah - that the Torah was not written in chronological order - to explain the baraita's reasoning.
Yoma 4a-b: Preparing to Enter God's Presence
15/04/2021 - 3rd of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we learned previously, the Sages of the Talmud derived the need for a seven-day preparation for the Yom Kippur service from the Torah's description of the Tabernacle in the desert. An alternative source is suggested by Reish Lakish, who proposes that this rule is derived from the story of Moshe receiving the commandments on Mount Sinai. The Torah describes Moshe as being enveloped by a cloud for six days and entering God's presence on the seventh day (see Shemot 24:16). This teaches that someone who is about to enter mahaneh shekhinah - the "encampment of God" - needs a week of preparation to do so. The Gemara quotes a baraita that includes at least one tanna who supports Reish Lakish. Several opinions are presented about the six days that Moshe was in the cloud:
  • Rabbi Yosei HaGelili - These days were the first six of the forty days that Moshe was on the mountain, after he received the ten commandments.
  • Rabbi Akiva - These days began on Rosh Hodesh Sivan, when Moshe was still with the people of Israel. During this time the mountain (not Moshe) was surrounded by a cloud covering.
  • Rabbi Natan - He agrees that they were days of preparation, but only so that the food could be removed from Moshe's system, bringing him to the level of one of the heavenly angels.
  • Rabbi Matya ben Harash - He also agrees that they were days of preparation, whose purpose was to raise Moshe to a sense of awe and trembling prior to receiving the Torah. The source for this idea is Tehillim 2:11, "serve the Lord with awe, and rejoice with trembling."
Although Rashi and Tosafot on our daf interpret Rabbi Matya ben Harash's statement as referring specifically to the experience of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, others (see the Tosafot R"i ha-Lavan) apply it to Torah study in general, which is supposed to combine the elements of joy and celebration with trembling and trepidation. The Ritva points out that according to the Gemara in Berakhot it appears that this is a general principle - at every occasion of joy it is important to keep a sense of trepidation, as well.
Yoma 3a-b: Whose Property Is It?
14/04/2021 - 2nd of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
We learned in yesterday's daf that the Sages of the Talmud derived the need for a seven-day preparation for the Yom Kippur service from the Torah's description of the Tabernacle in the desert. In that case the High Priest Aharon and his sons were confined for a week during the ceremonies inaugurating the Mishkan so that they would practice the service that needed to be done afterwards. Specifically, the Gemara refers to Vayikra 8:33-34, where the Torah teaches that the week of preparation was a model for a situation where kapparah - atonement - was offered, which is understood to mean Yom Kippur. The Gemara on our daf discusses how we know that the passages in Vayikra that talk about kapparah refer to preparation for Yom Kippur; perhaps they are teaching that other holidays - like Rosh HaShana, for example - need such preparation. The Gemara points to the uniqueness of Yom Kippur as a holiday on which the Kohen Gadol brings his own sacrifice, similar to the personal sacrifice brought by Aharon HaKohen at the consecration of the Mishkan. This is significantly different than other holidays - including Rosh HaShana - where the sacrifices brought were communal ones. The conclusion of the Gemara is clear that, with regard to Yom Kippur, some sacrifices were the personal property of the High Priest. It points out, though, that there are some things that were used in the Temple whose ownership is less clear.
As it was taught in a baraita that when the Torah states: Take you [kah lekha], it means from your own property, and when it states: Make you [a'se lekha], it means from your own property; however, when the Torah states: And they will bring to you, it means from community property. This is the statement of Rabbi Yoshiya. Rabbi Yonatan says that both when the Torah states: Take you, and when the Torah states: And they will bring to you, it means from community property. And for what purpose, then, does the verse state: Take you, which seems to mean from your own property? It should be understood, as it were, that God said to Moses: I desire that it come from your property more than I desire it from theirs. Therefore, the taking was attributed to Moses even though it was actually from community property.
The phrase kah lekha (take for you) is from the command to make the incense (see Shemot 30:34) and the phrase a'se lekha (make for you) appears in the command to make silver trumpets (image of replica trumpets to the right; see Bamidbar 10:2). This rather enigmatic statement is explained by the Maharsha as follows: Since the entire world belongs to God, there is nothing that can be "given" to him, and it is impossible to discuss a physical thing that He "wants" from this world. Therefore, His command to offer something to Him means that He is honoring Moshe by accepting something from him, and He would prefer to honor Moshe than the Jewish people.
Yoma 2a-b: Of Priests and Priestly Families
13/04/2021 - 1st of Iyyar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Massekhet Yoma is a chronological presentation of the various activities that take place in preparation for the Temple service on Yom Kippur, beginning with those things that need to be done prior to the holiday, and culminating with the day itself. The first Mishna in the massekhet teaches how the Kohen Gadol is taken aside for an entire week of preparation and purification in anticipation of Yom Kippur. Since the entire complicated service will be done by him, reaching a climax with his entering the Holy of Holies - it was clear that serious preparation was essential. The Sages of the Talmud learned this from the Torah's description of the Tabernacle in the desert, where Aaron and his sons were confined for a week during the ceremonies inaugurating the Mishkan to practice the service that needed to be done afterwards. This preparation became even more important during the Second Temple period. Although the ideal Kohen Gadol should have been a scholar and righteous person, for a variety of reasons the person who filled the position during that period often did not live up to that expectation. This led the Sages to institute rules that would ensure that the High Priest would be knowledgeable in the service that he was to perform, and that he would do it correctly. Aside from the day of Yom Kippur, all of the kohanim have the opportunity, and, in fact, were required, to take a turn in the Temple service. Our Gemara asks whether every beit av - family of priests - should be required to spend a week preparing for their turn working in the Beit ha-Mikdash, a suggestion ultimately rejected by the Gemara. The idea of patrilineal priestly families - of a beit av - stems from a very early division of the kohanim - as early as the time of King David (see I Divrei haYamim 24:1-18) - into 24 mishmarot (watches). The same number existed during the Second Temple, as well, although it was a new division of labor, since only four priestly families returned to serve in the Second Temple. Each of the 24 "watches" was divided into six families (beit av). Every "watch" would go up to Jerusalem to work for one week at a time, so that in the course of a year each "watch" would work approximately two weeks. During the festivals of Pesah, Shavu'ot and Sukkot all the kohanim would come to work together. During the week that a given mishmar was in the Temple, each beit av would work on a specific day, and only if there was an inordinate amount of work would a second family join them. Thus, generally speaking, every family of kohanim would work on two set days during the year.
Shekalim 22a-b: In This Day And Age
12/04/2021 - 30th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The final Mishna in Massekhet Shekalim returns to the rules of the shekalim, and specifically to their status in contemporary times when the Mikdash is no longer standing. Incidentally it also touches on some other halakhot that are dependant on the holiness of the Land of Israel and how they are to be kept in the absence of the Temple. Since the purpose of the shekalim is to pay for communal sacrifices, there really is no reason to continue contributing them as long as the Temple is in a state of destruction. The Mishna rules that shekalim and bikkurim are no longer brought. Nevertheless, if someone sets them aside for those purposes, they become kodesh (consecrated). Since they cannot be used for their designated purpose, the bikkurim must be left to rot and the shekalim should be destroyed. Rabbi Shimon rules that bikkurim cannot be made in our day and age, since they cannot possibly be brought to the Mikdash as is required by the Torah (see Devarim 26:2). The Mishna teaches about a number of other halakhot that apply whether or not the Temple is standing. Ma'aser dagan and ma'aser behema (tithes of grains and animals) as well as the rules of bekhor (first born) apply today even without the Mikdash. Ma'aser dagan are the tithes that are separated from grains and given to the kohen and the levi. Ma'aser behema is the obligation to set aside one of every ten newly born animals (see Vayikra 27:32). Bekhor is the rule obligating that the first-born animal be given to the kohen (see Shemot 13:1-13 and Bamidbar 18:15-18). While the obligation of bekhor stems from the fact that there is inherent holiness to the firstborn animal, ma'aser behema derives from its connection and similarity to ma'aser dagan. The Bartenura explains that the rules of ma'aser dagan still apply because the holiness attained by the Land of Israel during the second Temple period remains, even when the Temple is no longer standing.
Shekalim 21a-b: Are Found Utensils Presumed To Be Pure?
11/04/2021 - 29th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The eighth and final perek of Massekhet Shekalim follows the mishnayot of the previous perek, which discussed money that was found in the Temple and in Jerusalem, and whether that money is to be considered consecrated to the Mikdash or not. These mishnayot deal with other things that are found in Jerusalem; in this case the question is whether they are to be considered ritually pure or defiled. One case, for example, is utensils that are found in the city. According to Rabbi Meir, if they are found in a place that leads to a mikveh, where such utensils are taken to purify them, we must assume that they are tameh, but if they are found on the path leading away from the mikveh, we can assume that they were already dipped and are considered ritually pure. Archaeological excavations have found many mikva'ot like the ones described here, in which there are separate staircases leading into the mikveh and leading away from it, with a clear separation between them. They were set up this way in order to ensure that the people going in to the mikveh who are tameh, should not touch the ones who were leaving the mikveh, already tahor.
However, Rabbi Yose says: They are all ritually pure, except for the basket, and the shovel, and the meritza, which are specifically used for graves, to gather up the bones of the dead. These tools must be presumed to be ritually impure, but in general, vessels are presumed to be pure.
During the Second Temple period people were buried in temporary graves and after their flesh decomposed their bones were moved to permanent family burial caves. The basket was a special one that was used to collect the bones. The shovel had a wide head and a long handle, held in both hands; when associated with a basket, as it is here, it was used for digging as well as the collection of bones for burial. The meritza in this context was a tool similar to a pickax, also called a dolabra, with which one could extract large stones and then push them into place to close a burial cave. The Rambam rules like Rabbi Yose, that utensils in Jerusalem are not automatically assumed to be tameh, since the Rabbinic ordinance that such utensils are tameh that was applied in other cities (see the Mishna in Taharot 4:5) was not applied in Jerusalem.
Shekalim 20a-b: Handling Consecrated Animals
10/04/2021 - 28th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The last Mishna in our perek opens with a discussion of what to do if an animal is found in the environs of Jerusalem. We assume that it must be a korban; depending on its gender, it will either be brought as an ola or as a shelamim. The Mishna also describes how at first the person who found the animal was responsible to pay for the minhat nesakhim that went with it (flour and oil, as well as a wine libation). When people realized that bringing the lost animal to the Temple would be an expensive proposition for them, they would ignore such animals, so a court decision was made putting the responsibility for the minhat nesakhim on the community. Rabbi Shimon lists this as one of the seven takanot (remedy, ordinance) that the beit din made in connection with the Temple service.
And the sixth ordinance concerned the red heifer: that deriving benefit from its ashes is not considered misusing consecrated property.
The para aduma was used during Temple times to purify people who had become ritually defiled through contact with a dead body. According to the Torah (Bamidbar 19:1-22), the para aduma is slaughtered and burned; its ashes are mixed with well-water (mayim hayyim) and that mixture is sprinkled on the person who is tameh. After a week has passed, the person goes to the mikveh and becomes tahor (ritually pure) once again. For all that preparation of the para aduma is incumbent on the kohanim and is part of the Temple service, the para aduma is not considered a korban, as it is not slaughtered in the precincts of the Mikdash, but on Har ha-Zeitim, the Mount of Olives. As such, the holiness that it has is kodshei bedek ha-bayit, as something that belongs to the Temple treasury, rather than having inherent holiness. According to the Gemara, me'ila (misusing consecrated property) can only take place if someone makes use of the para aduma itself. Me'ila cannot be done on the ashes of the para aduma. When the courts saw that the kohanim were using the ashes for medicinal purposes, they ruled that me'ila should apply to the ashes, as well. When it became clear that this new rule discouraged kohanim from participating in the ceremony where the para aduma water was used for its intended purpose, because they were afraid that they might accidentally derive benefit from it, the beit din returned the law to its original status, ruling that no me'ila applies to the ashes.
Shekalim 19a-b: Finding Lost Money in Jerusalem
09/04/2021 - 27th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
On the last daf we learned that great care was taken to make sure that no mistakes were made, and that all of the shofarot where money was collected were clearly marked. Nevertheless, there were occasions that money was found on the floor between the shofarot. What was to be done with that money? The Mishna on our daf, which opens the seventh perek of Massekhet Shekalim, rules in a straightforward manner that we assume that the money belongs in the shofar that is closest to where it was found. There are other cases, however, that are not so simple.
Money found before animal merchants in Jerusalem is always presumed to be second-tithe money. The presumption is based on the fact that in Jerusalem, most of the animals are bought with second-tithe money and sacrificed as peace-offerings. And money found on the Temple Mount is presumed to be non-sacred money. And with regard to money found in the rest of Jerusalem, the following distinction applies: If it was found during the rest of the days of the year, it is presumed to be non-sacred money, but if it was found during the time of a pilgrim Festival, it is all presumed to be second-tithe money, because most of the money found in Jerusalem at the time of a Festival is second-tithe money.
Ma'aser sheni is the additional tithe that is separated by the farmer after he has given teruma to the kohen and the first tithe to the levi. During the first, second, fourth and fifth years of the shemitta cycle an additional tenth of the produce is set aside by the farmer, who takes it to Jerusalem to eat (during years three and six the tithe is given to the poor). Recognizing that it might be difficult to bring a large amount of crops to Jerusalem, the Torah itself allows the farmer to redeem his crops and take the money to Jerusalem, where he could buy any food products there (see Devarim 14:26). Although there was no specific obligation to bring the food to Jerusalem during the holiday, it is clear that people did not make special trips to the city just to eat their ma'aser sheni, rather they took the money with them when they came for the holidays. Since there were a large number of people who came for a relatively short period of time, virtually all of the money that was spent on food was ma'aser sheni money, and specifically near the animal merchants the likelihood was that money found there was ma'aser sheni. The reason we are not concerned the rest of the year that the money is ma'aser sheni is explained by the Rambam (Hilkhot Ma’aser Sheni 6:9-10) – that the streets of Jerusalem were swept every day, so we can assume that any money found today was also lost today.
Shekalim 18a-b: Proper Spending of Temple Donations
08/04/2021 - 26th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Money was collected for use in the Beit ha-Mikdash in different ways. The Mishna on our daf describes 13 collection boxes that were called shofarot, because they were shaped like a shofar with one end small enough for a coin to be placed into it and a larger end where the coins could be removed. (They were made in this way so that no one who came to deposit money would be suspected of stealing.) Each shofar was marked with the purpose of its money, so that no mistakes would be made. For example, one said "new shekalim" for the monies that were deposited for the fiscal year beginning in Nisan, one was marked "old shekalim" for the leftover monies from last year's collection, etc. The Mishna continues with a reference to one of the stories in the Tanakh where we hear about the collection of shekalim (II Melakhim12) in which King Yoash partnered with the High Priest Jehoiada in collecting money from the people and refurbishing the Temple.
This midrash was taught by Jehoiada the High Priest: There is an apparent contradiction between two verses. With regard to the guilt-offering, the verse states: "It is a guilt-offering; he is certainly guilty before the Lord" (Vayikra 5:19). This verse indicates that the guilt-offering goes to God, not the priests. However, a different verse states: "As is the sin-offering, so is the guilt-offering; there is one law for them; the priest who makes atonement with it, he shall have it" (Leviticus 7:7). This verse indicates that the offering is designated for the priests alone. How can these two verses be reconciled? The Mishna explains that this is the principle: Any funds that come due to a sin-offering or due to a guilt-offering, i.e., leftover coins designated for one of these offerings, they should be used for the purchase of animals for a voluntary burnt-offering, as the meat will be offered on the altar to God, and the hides will go to the priests. In this manner the two verses are found to be fulfilled, as it is both a guilt-offering to God as well as guilt-offering to the priest. And this halakha also explains the verse that says: "The guilt-offering money and the sin-offering money was not brought into the House of the Lord; it was for the priests" (II Kings 12:17). This verse is understood to refer to the hides given to the priests.
Clearly the money must be spent on the sacrifices for which it was set aside. What this pasuk teaches is that extra money is given to the kohanim to purchase olot, rather than being given to the Temple treasury for use in refurbishing the Mikdash. The question of how to make sure that money donated to the Temple was properly spent comes up a number of times in the Talmud. In Ketubot (106b), Rav Huna asks whether the keli sharet – the utensils used for the Temple service - were considered connected to the altar, and could be purchased from money set aside for bedek ha-bayit (money set aside for the Temple itself), or were they considered connected to the sacrifice and needed to be purchased from the terumat ha-lishka money (money set aside for communal sacrifices). Rav answers that the utensils are made from terumat ha-lishka money. Rav Huna then points to a pasuk that clearly describes leftover money collected by King Yoash and the High Priest Jehoiada being used for the keli sharet (see II Divrei ha-Yamim 24:14). Rav argues that that passage must be talking about a case where more money was collected than necessary, so the remaining money could be used for other purposes in the Temple, pointing out that the story, as related in Sefer Melakhim (II Melakhim 12:14-15) clearly says that the money collected for bedek ha-bayit was not used for making these utensils.
Shekalim 17a-b: Daily Miracles
07/04/2021 - 25th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna on our daf describes the thirteen tables that were in the Temple. Eight of them, made of marble, were used, in effect, to butcher the animals in preparation for their sacrifice on the mizbe'ah. There were also tables made of gold for the lehem ha-panim, the shewbread. The Gemara comments that silver tables were not used for the lehem ha-panim because the heat of the tables might cause the bread – which was left on the shulhan (table) for an entire week – to become moldy. Even though the freshness of the bread was one of the daily miracles of the Temple, the Gemara argues that we do not rely on miracles. Issues having to do with the presence of the meat and bread in the Temple are among the ten daily miracles that are recorded by the Mishna in Massekhet Avot (2:5). They include:
  • No women ever miscarried from smelling the meat of the sacrifices
  • The meat of the sacrifices never spoiled
  • No fly was ever seen in the Temple
  • The High Priest never became impure before Yom Kippur
  • There was never a problem with the Omer that was cut, nor with the shtei ha-lehem, nor with the lehem ha-panim
  • The people would be crowded together, and yet would have room to bow down
  • Neither snake nor scorpion ever injured someone in Jerusalem
  • No one ever complained that there was no room for him in Jerusalem.
Although these are all described as miracles, in his commentary on Aggada, Shem-Tov ibn Shaprut argues that they can all be explained rationally, and that the "miracle" was not in an unnatural event, rather in the care and concern engendered by the holiness of the Mikdash that kept these things from taking place. For example, the kohanim were so careful and committed to their work that they made sure that the sacrifices were brought in a timely fashion so that the meat never spoiled nor attracted flies, the communal sacrifices never were found to have problems and the kohen gadol never became impure. Jerusalem was such a popular and busy place that snakes and scorpions never found ruins or abandoned areas to breed. Finally, thanks to the high level of friendliness and concern for one another, the people looked out for each other and made sure that there was always room for everyone.
Shekalim 16a-b: The Anointing Oil
06/04/2021 - 24th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna (15b) mentioned the tradition that had been handed down that the aron had been hidden away towards the end of the first Temple period. Our Gemara teaches that according to that tradition, several other items that were on display in the Temple were concealed together with the Ark. They included the container of manna, Aharon the high Priest's staff and the flask of the shemen ha-mish'ha, the oil used for anointing. The shemen ha-mish'ha was made from afarsimon (which may be identical to the tzari mentioned in the Torah), which was, apparently, the plant Commiphora apobalsamum. This is a small tree or shrub that stands from 10 to 12 feet high, with wand-like, spreading branches. The best perfume that can be extracted from it drips from the seeds, but it is usually produced by boiling the branches. The oil that is extracted from this plant was occasionally used as a medicine, but more as incense or perfumed oil. The afarsimon was considered so valuable that at one point it was literally worth its weight in gold. The shemen ha-mish'ha was used to anoint kings and high priests. The Rosh points out that the need to anoint the high priest is from a clear passage in the Torah (see Shemot 30:30), but there appears to be a prohibition to use the oil on any other person (see Shemot 30:32). How was the decision made to use this oil on kings, as well? He answers that the Gemara in Megilla understands that it is only forbidden to use this oil on a normal person. The king is not simply an adam (man) and therefore he does not fall into the category of the prohibition. According to the Gemara in Horayot (12a), kings were anointed by putting the oil around their head like a crown. The kohanim had the oil put on them ke-min key, or, as the Gemara explains, ke-min kaf yevani – like a Greek chi – what we would call the shape of the letter "X". Since there is no Hebrew letter that is similar in shape to an "X," many suggestions were made by the commentaries over the years about its appearance, given that Greek was no longer commonly used and people did not know what the letter looked like. According to the shape of the letter as we know it, it appears that the oil would be placed on the forehead of the priest, beginning between his eyebrows and spread diagonally towards his head, making the shape of an "X".
Shekalim 15a-b: The Hidden Ark
05/04/2021 - 23th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The first Mishna of the sixth perek appears on our daf, and it teaches about 13 collection boxes - referred to as shofarot because of their shape - that were in the Temple, a number of which were for the deposit of shekalim. The Mishna continues with a description of other times there were 13 things in the, including shulhanot (tables) and hishtahavayot (times that the people bowed down). The Mishna records another tradition kept by Rabban Gamliel's family, who bowed down fourteen times. They bowed down an extra time near the storage house for wood because of the tradition that the aron - the Ark of the Covenant - was hidden there. During the first Temple period, there was a rock in the kodesh kodashim, called the even ha-shetiya (foundation stone), upon which rested the aron, together with a container of manna (see Shemot 16:33-34) and Aharon ha-Kohen's staff (see Bamidbar 17:16-24). During the Second Temple the Mikdash operated without an ark. When the kohen gadol (high priest) entered the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, the service was performed in the place of the ark, even though there was none there. The ark was hidden by King Yoshiyahu towards the end of the first Temple period. During his reign, a copy of Sefer Devarim was discovered that was interpreted by Hulda ha-nevi'ah as warning of the destruction of the kingdom (see II Melakhim 22-23). According to the Radak, the discovered scroll was open to the passage (Devarim 28:36) that foretold of the exile, and the king, fearing that if the ark was taken into exile it would never return, chose to hide it on the grounds of the Mikdash (see II Divrei ha-Yamim 35:3).
The mishna relates that there was an incident involving a certain priest who was going about his duties and saw a certain flagstone that was different from the others. He noticed that one of the stones was slightly raised above the others, indicating that it had been removed and returned to its place. The priest understood that this was the opening to an underground tunnel where the Ark was concealed. He came and said to his fellow that he had noticed this deviation in the floor. He did not manage to conclude relating the incident before his soul left him, i.e., he died. Following this event, they knew with certainty that the Ark was sequestered there and that God had prevented that priest from revealing its location.
It should be noted that there is an opinion that the aron was also taken into exile to Babylon, based on II Divrei haYamim 36:10, which describes that the keli hemdat bet ha-Shem (goodly vessel of the house of Hashem) was taken there.
Shekalim 14a-b: The Smoke Raiser
04/04/2021 - 22th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna at the beginning of the fifth perek(13a) lists the different families of kohanim who were responsible for specific tasks in the Temple. Our Gemara quotes baraitot that are most critical of two of the families - Bet Garmu, who were responsible for baking the lehem ha-panim (shewbread) and Bet Avtinas, who were responsible for the ketoret. The criticism of both of these families focused on their refusal to share the knowledge of their craft with others. The Gemara on our daf relates that, in each case, the Sages removed them from their positions and brought in experts from Alexandria in Egypt who were to teach others how to do these things. In each case the experts could not create the same effect as the priestly families - they could not bake bread that would not become moldy, nor could they succeed in creating an incense whose smoke would rise in a straight line to the heavens. The Sages eventually had to return them to their original positions - with a significant raise in their salaries. In their defense, the baraita records the explanation for their behavior - they feared that with the ultimate destruction of the Temple this knowledge would be put to mundane use if too many people knew about it.
Rabbi Akiva said: Shimon ben Loga told me: Once I and a certain child from the house of Avtinas were collecting herbs, and I saw him crying, and later  II saw him laughing. said to him: My son, why did you cry? He said to me: I cried for the glory of my father's house, which has been diminished after the destruction of the Temple. I subsequently asked him: And why did you laugh? He said to me: I laughed with joy over the glory prepared for the righteous in the future, when my family will have its role restored to them in the rebuilt Temple. Shimon ben Loga added that he asked that child further: And what did you see that brought these things to mind? He replied: I saw the smoke raiser before me, among the herbs we were collecting. I said to him: My son, show it to me, and I will keep its identity secret so that no one will be able to use it for idolatry. He said to me: Rabbi, I have a tradition from my forefathers not to show it to a soul.
The plant seen by the descendant of Bet Avtinas is referred to as ma'ale ashan. Although the tradition identifying this plant has apparently been lost over the centuries, the generally accepted identification is with a weed called leptadenia pyrotechnica, a plant that grows in the southern part of the Jordan Valley and in the northern Sinai. This plant ignites very easily, and local Arabs have used it to make gunpowder and explosives. Lighting even one branch of the bush will cause it to burn up entirely in a ve
Shekalim 13a-b: The Donkey Who Was Strict About Tithes
03/04/2021 - 21th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
On daf  9 we were introduced to Rabbi Pinehas ben Yair who taught us how to climb the rungs of holiness and saintliness. Our Gemara relates another famous story that is told - not so much about Pinehas ben Yair, but about his donkey. Several times in the Gemara the expression is used "if the earlier Sages were angels, we are people. And if they were people, we are donkeys…and not even as great as the donkey that belonged to Pinehas ben Yair."
The Gemara explains the reference to this particular donkey. The donkey of Rabbi Pinehas ben Yair was stolen by robbers one night. It was kept hidden by them for three days, and yet it did not eat anything. After three days, they reconsidered and decided to return it. They said: Let’s get it out of here, so that it shouldn’t die in our possession and leave a stench in our cave. When they set it free it went and stood by its master’s gate and began braying. Rabbi Pinehas said to the members of his household: Open up for that poor creature, which has gone three days without eating anything. They opened the gate for it, and it entered Rabbi Pinehas’ courtyard. He told them: Give it something to eat. They placed barley before it, but it would not eat. They said to him: Rabbi, it will not eat. He said to them: Has the barley been tithed so that it is fit to eat? They replied: Yes. He then asked them: And have you separated their doubtfully tithed produce? Did you tithe the grain about which there is doubt as to whether it has been tithed properly? They replied: Didn’t you teach us the following, Rabbi: One who purchases grain for feeding an animal, or flour for processing animal hides, or oil for lighting a lamp, is exempt from separating doubtfully tithed produce? There is no need to separate tithes from doubtfully tithed produce to feed a donkey. He said to them: What can we do for that poor creature, which is very strict with itself and will not eat even from doubtfully tithed produce, despite this exemption? And they therefore separated tithes from the doubtfully tithed produce, and the donkey finally ate the barley grains.
Rabbi Pinehas ben Yair was one of the Tanna'im who was known as one of the righteous people of his generation and as a miracle worker. He was related by marriage to Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai (according to some texts he was his father-in-law, according to others, his son-in-law). During his lifetime he was already spoken about as a legend, and the Gemara is replete with miraculous stories about him to the extent that the Sages say, "How much greater was this man than Moshe Rabbenu!" Nevertheless, only a small number of his teachings are recorded in the Gemara.
Shekalim 12a-b: Using Donations to the Temple
02/04/2021 - 20th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna on our daf discusses a case where someone announces that he is donating all of his possessions to the Mikdash. In such a case, the property is usually given to the Temple treasurer for general upkeep - bedek ha-bayit. But what if some of his possessions can be brought as sacrifices? If some of the possessions are animals that can be brought as sacrifices, there is general agreement that such an animal should be sacrificed, as that was most probably the intent of the donor. Furthermore, the korban (sacrifice) should be brought in such a way that it is entirely donated to the Temple, with no part of it going to the owner. Therefore, all agree that the animals that can be brought as olot - burnt offerings - should be sacrificed. There is a difference of opinion, however, with regard to those animals that can be brought as shelamim - korbanot that are divided between the altar, the kohen and the owner. According to Rabbi Eliezer, such an animal should be sold to someone who will use it as a shelamim, and the proceeds should be given to the Temple treasurer together with all the rest of the possessions. Rabbi Yehoshua agrees that such animals should be sold to someone who will sacrifice them as a shelamim, but, he says, the proceeds of the sale must be used to purchase olot. If some of the possessions are not sacrificial animals, but they can be brought on the altar - for example, wine, oil, or fowl - Rabbi Eliezer rules that they should be sold to someone who will use them on the mizbe'ah for its appropriate purpose, and the proceeds should be used to purchase olot that will be burned on the altar. In this case the Mishna does not record any argument. The Rambam records this in his Mishneh Torah (Hilkhot Erkhin 5:8-9) and rules like Rabbi Eliezer in the first case, so that the money received from the sale of the animals that cannot be brought as olot will be given to the Temple treasurer for general use. This creates an odd situation that the Rambam feels obligated to explain. In the first case in the Mishna, animals that could be brought as shelamim are sold and the proceeds are used for bedek ha-bayit. In the second case, other items brought on the mizbe'ah are sold, but the proceeds from that sale are used to buy sacrifices! He explains (based on the passage in Vayikra 27:11-12) that only animals can be evaluated for the purpose of redemption. As such, the animals in the first case can truly be redeemed, and their value can be used for the relatively mundane purposes of bedek ha-bayit. The wine, oil, etc. in the second case cannot be redeemed, so the money retains the original holiness and must be used for actual sacrifices.
Shekalim 11a-b: Leftover Animals
01/04/2021 - 19th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
How were the animals in the Temple purchased? According to Rashi, the general practice in the Temple was to set aside six animals that had been checked and found to be appropriate for sacrifice that would serve the needs of the upcoming communal sacrifices. This way, there was always a reserve of animals available for the Temple’s needs. Tosafot ha-Rosh quotes an opinion which says that it all depended on availability. The kohanim in the Temple tried to always have a reserve of animals, and if a particularly good buying opportunity came up, they would buy a large number of animals. According to both of these approaches, we can understand the question of the Gemara - what was to be done with leftover korbanot (sacrifices)? With the new year for sacrifices beginning on the first day of Nisan, when the end of Adar arrived there would often be a pool of animals that had been set aside for sacrifices, but could no longer be used, since the new year's sacrifices had to come from the new year's donations. Our Gemara quotes a difference of opinion as to what happened to these animals. Shmuel rules that we redeem them - we exchange them for money. Then, the animals would no longer have any holiness attached to them, and the money could be used for the various needs of the Temple, as we will explain. Rabbi Yohanan says that we cannot remove the holiness of the sacrificial animals so easily; we can only redeem them after they have become blemished in some way so that they can no longer be brought as korbanot. Rashi explains Shmuel's position as limiting the possible use of the animals even after they are redeemed. He explains that, immediately after being redeemed, they are repurchased for use in the Temple. The source for this ruling is, apparently, that this is the position of the Gemara with regard to leftover ketoret - incense used in the Temple service. It was redeemed, but immediately repurchased for use in the Temple. The Torat Hayyim - Rabbi Avraham Hayyim Shor - points out that the Rambam (Hilkhot Shekalim 4:11 ) accepts the position that these animals can be redeemed, and makes no mention of the need for repurchase. He argues that unlike the ketoret, which could not be left in the hands of someone unconnected with the Temple service, since its use outside of the Temple was forbidden, these animals could be used by anyone once they had been redeemed and were no longer holy.
Shekalim 10a-b: Paying People to Teach Torah
31/03/2021 - 18th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The fourth perek of Massekhet Shekalim, which begins on our daf opens with the question of how the shekalim are spent. We have already noted that the communal sacrifices were purchased with this money, but there were other needs in the Temple and in Jerusalem that were paid for with these donations. For example, our Gemara teaches that the sages who taught the rules of the Temple service to the kohanim were paid with this money. Tosafot in Massekhet Ketubot (105b) points out that paying people who teach Torah is not a simple thing, and, in theory, should be forbidden entirely. The only payment that a teacher can receive is sekhar batala - the value for his time that he could have spent on more lucrative endeavors. Another arrangement that can be made is a stipend to be paid to a scholar who agrees that he will not be involved in any business activities whatsoever so that they will always be available for the needs of the community. According to Rabbi Vidal Crescas, this is the method that is popularly used to pay community Rabbis to this day. The Rambam in Hilkhot Talmud Torah 3:9-10 takes a strong stand on this issue, forbidding scholars from receiving payment in exchange for Torah study, although the Kesef Mishneh (ibid) rules even the Rambam would agree that it would be permissible if the scholar serviced the needs of the community. It should be noted that in previous times people literally lived hand-to-mouth and there was very little leisure time, making it almost impossible to divide time between learning Torah and working. In our day-and-age, arranging one's work environment so that it is possible support oneself and study Torah is a strong possibility. One of the examples of what was taught is the rules of kemitza. Kemitza involved taking an exact amount of the flour for the meal offering in one's hand, and it was very difficult to ensure that the exact amount was taken. A similar lesson that needed to be taught was the rule regarding melika, the unique manner in which the sacrificed fowl was slaughtered. This was known as one of the most difficult of the Temple services, and Tosafot argues that this, too, needed to be taught to the kohanim by experts. Since every group of kohanim that came to the Temple to work needed to learn and to review these laws, there was constant work for those scholars who knew how to teach this material.
Shekalim 9a-b: One Thing Leads to Another
30/03/2021 - 17th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara on our daf quotes a well-known statement in the name of Rabbi Pinehas ben Yair that appears a number of times in the Talmud. There are different versions of this text, one of which appears below:
And so Rabbi Pinehas ben Yair would say: Alacrity in the proper performance of the mitzvot leads to cleanliness of the soul, so that one will not sin. Cleanliness of the soul and refraining from all sin leads to purity, so that one purifies his soul from his previous sins. Purity leads to holiness. Holiness leads to humility, as one recognizes his lowliness. Humility leads to fear of sin, because when one recognizes his inferiority, he becomes more fearful of sin and is careful to avoid temptation. Fear of sin leads to piety, as one begins to impose upon himself stringencies beyond the letter of the law. Piety leads to the holy spirit, because when one acts in a manner that goes beyond the letter of the law, Heaven acts with him in a way that is not natural to man, and informs him of the secrets of the Torah through divine inspiration. The holy spirit leads to the resurrection of the dead, because the spirit of holiness and purity that descend upon him enter the bones of the deceased and resurrect them. The resurrection of the dead that will precede the arrival of the Messiah leads to the coming of the Prophet Elijah, of blessed memory, who will herald the upcoming redemption.
Rabbi Moshe Hayyim Luzzato based his master-work, the Messilat Yesharim, on this baraita. The Messilat Yesharim is, in effect, a book-long analysis of the ideas set forth here. Let us examine a small selection of them. "Cleanliness" (nekiyut) is understood as avoidance of sin (Rashi) or evil thoughts (Re'ah). Rabbi Ya'akov Emden suggests that it also refers to physical cleanliness of the body, clothing, etc. which also plays a role in elevating a person to a higher spiritual realm. "Purity" (tahara) leads to "holiness" (kedusha) because a person who has removed himself from the drives and desires of this world will be able to turn his attention to the love of God and of man beyond what he is obligated to do based on the letter of the law. "Resurrection of the dead" (tehiyat ha-metim) is explained by the Nemukei Yosef as meaning that the person on this level will be able to successfully pray on behalf of someone like the stories of the prophets and sages who successfully revived people who appeared to be dead. The Maharashdam suggests that, based on the idea that evil people are considered as if they were dead, someone who influences such a person to repent is considered to have brought him back to life.
Shekalim 8a-b: The Collection Baskets
29/03/2021 - 16th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The third perek of Massekhet Shekalim opens with a discussion of the collection and use of the shekalim in the Temple. When the shekalim were collected, they were brought to the Temple where they were stored so that they could be used to purchase communal sacrifices as necessary. As we learned, the collection was taken up in the month of Adar, and beginning with the first day of Nisan, the new year began with regard to the Temple service. The Mishna on our daf teaches that all of the collected money was brought to a specific Temple office. It was removed three times during the year – 15 days before each of the shalosh regalim – and put into baskets from which it was dispensed to the people who had accepted upon themselves the responsibility of tending to the needs of the Temple service. Before each holiday the money was distributed into three kupot – baskets – one of them representing the donations of the people living in Israel, one on behalf of the people living in the countries near Israel and one for the people who lived in the further reaches of the Diaspora.
The funds are collected from the Temple treasury chamber with three baskets, each measuring three se'a. On the baskets is written, respectively, alef, beit, gimmel, based on the order in which the baskets are filled, to indicate from which basket coins should be taken to buy sacrifices. The coins were used in the order of their collection. Rabbi Yishmael says: The letters written on them were in Greek [the language commonly in use during the second Temple period], alfa, beta, gamma.
The Mishna also teaches that great care was taken to make sure that no one would steal – or be suspected of stealing – from these monies. No one was permitted to take the money from the Temple office if he was wearing clothing or shoes in which he could conceal money. To support the ruling that obligates people to show care not only before God, but also before people, and ensure that they do not suspect you of wrongdoing, the Mishna refers to passages in Bamidbar 32:22 and Mishle 3:4 that clearly indicate the need to be concerned with both heavenly and this-world suspicions.
Shekalim 7a-b: When There is Money Left Over
28/03/2021 - 15th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The discussion on yesterday's daf about what to do when more money is set aside for the mahatzit ha-shekel (half-shekel) than is required leads the Mishna to present other situations where more money was given for a mitzva than was necessary. For example, if money is collected to bury a person, what should be done with extra money that was donated?
The leftover money collected for burying the dead must be allocated to burying the dead. The leftover money collected to bury or provide burial shrouds for a particular deceased person is given to his heirs. Rabbi Meir says: It is uncertain what should be done, and therefore the leftover money for the deceased should be placed in a safe place until Elijah comes and teaches what should be done. Rabbi Natan says: With the leftover money collected for a deceased person they build a monument [nefesh] on his grave for him.
Each of these rulings deserves some explanation. Many commentaries ask by what right the Tanna Kamma can suggest that money set aside for burial purposes be given to his children. The Ramah offers an alternative interpretation to this position. He suggests that the money will go to the children who inherit the official who is responsible for burials, because the money that is given to him becomes his property. The Hazon Ish argues that the people who donate on behalf of someone's burial certainly intend to give the money as tzedaka to honor him, and recognize that he will be honored also by having his children receive the money. In his Tzafnat Pane'ah, Rav Yosef Rosen (the Rogachover) suggests that we know that there is no intent to give money to the dead man himself, rather the money is being given to his children so that they will be able to bury him properly. As such, leftover money belongs to them. Rabbi Meir's comment about the coming of the prophet Eliyahu is a common expression in the Talmud, which means that there are certain issues that we cannot determine with our own analytical powers, and we await the arrival of a prophet who can tell us what to do. This does not apply to issues of halakhic indecision, but only to technical issues where we cannot ascertain what really happened, and need prophetic insight to clarify matters. The nefesh that Rabbi Natan suggests should be built was a marker of some sort – sometimes a simple stone, and occasionally an ornate structure that was erected to honor the dead person.
Shekalim 6a-b: The Varying Amounts of Mahatzit ha-Shekel
27/03/2021 - 14th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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What happens if someone sets aside more money for his half-shekel than is required? According to the Mishna on our daf, Bet Hillel rules that the money is not holy, while according to Bet Shammai it will be used for voluntary sacrifices, since money set aside for holy purposes cannot be returned. Bet Hillel agrees that if more money is set aside for a sin-offering than is necessary then the extra money will be used for voluntary sacrifices. Rabbi Shimon explains that Bet Hillel distinguishes between shekalim and the korban hatat (sin offering) because of the passage describing the shekalim (Shemot 30:15) which teaches that a rich person cannot give more, nor a poor person less. Therefore, the shekel is a fixed amount and the individual who sets aside money for his shekel does not mean to give more than is necessary. The sin-offering, on the other hand, can cost any amount of money. Rabbi Yehuda objects to this, arguing that there is no fixed amount for shekalim, either. He points to different periods in history during which time different amounts were given as mahatzit ha-shekel (half-shekel). Rabbi Shimon's response is that even during those periods there was an agreed upon, set amount that everyone had to donate. In his argument, Rabbi Yehuda describes the various periods during second Temple times, when the Jews returning from exile first brought darkonot, then sela'im, then teva'im and finally, dinarim, which were rejected because their value was too small. The Ra'avad explains the story as follows. When the Jews first returned to Israel from the Diaspora there were few people and the needs of the Temple were great, so the people brought large, more valuable coins as mahatzit ha-shekel. As time went on the donations were made smaller, until they reached teva'im, which were equal in value to the required half-shekel. When people wanted to bring an even smaller coin it was rejected, since the minimum amount that could be brought was the value of a half-shekel. The Rambam interprets this story differently, due to a different understanding of the mitzva of mahatzit ha-shekel. According to him, the requirement is to bring one-half of the common currency of the time. Rabbi Shimon in the Mishna is describing that the currency changed over time and that the amount of money changed together with the coin that was in general use. When the common currency became teva'im the people had to give a whole coin, since half of that coin would have been less than the Biblical half-shekel, which is the least amount that can be given. (See Rambam Hilkhot Shekalim 1:5-6 and the Ra'avad there.)
Shekalim 5a-b: When the Half-Shekel Collection is Lost or Stolen
26/03/2021 - 13th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The second perek of Massekhet Shekalim opens with a discussion of how the shekalim are delivered to the Temple. The Mishna on our daf clarifies that there was no obligation for every individual to bring half-shekel coins to the Beit haMikdash, rather they could be collected in every community, exchanged for larger coins and sent with a messenger to Jerusalem. What if the money was lost or stolen en route to the Temple? The Mishna teaches that responsibility for lost or stolen money depends on when the money disappeared.
With regard to the residents of a town who sent their shekels to the Temple and they were stolen from the agent on the way or were lost, if the collection of the chamber had already been collected before these shekels arrived, the agents must take the oath of a bailee to the treasurers [gizbarin]. After the collection of the chamber, all the shekels that have been contributed become the property of the Temple, so the Temple treasurers who are in charge of this property become the opposing litigants of the agents. If the ceremony has not yet been performed and the contributions have not yet been collected into the baskets, the shekels are considered the property of the residents of the town, and therefore the agents must take an oath to absolve themselves to the residents of the town. Since those shekels are still considered the property of the residents of the town because the shekels never reached the Temple, they have not fulfilled their obligation. Therefore, the residents of the town must contribute other shekels in their place.
In order for the communal sacrifices that were brought in the Temple to be considered to have come from the entire nation, even before the half-shekel donations arrived in the Mikdash, money was set aside on Rosh Hodesh Nisan for the purchase of sacrifices. This money - called terumat ha-lishkah - was, in essence, a loan that was to be repaid when the half-shekalim arrived, as can be seen from the above Mishna. One of the concerns of the Gemara is whether the messenger in the story is paid (a shomer sakhar) or a volunteer (a shomer hinam). The law of shomer sakhar, as described in the Torah (Shemot 22:9-12), understands that in exchange for payment the guard accepts a high level of responsibility for the object he is watching. In such a case he will have to replace the object if it was lost or stolen. A shomer hinam, on the other hand (see Shemot 22:6-8) can swear that he did not act irresponsibly and will not be responsible for it. Although at first glace it appears that the case of our Mishna must be talking about a shomer hinam, who can swear and be free of any responsibility, the Gemara on our daf concludes that it could also be discussing the case of a shomer sakhar who can, in this case, swear that money had been lost or stolen because it was "lost" when the boat he was on sank or "stolen" by armed robbers. These cases are considered circumstances beyond the control of the guard, who is, therefore, not held responsible for the loss on any level.
Shekalim 4a-b: Of Samaritans and shekalim
25/03/2021 - 12th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Mishna (3b) teaches that while not required, shekalim are accepted from women and non-Jewish slaves. We will not accept a voluntary donation of shekalim from non-Jews or Samaritans. The Gemara on our daf notes that this Mishna follows the opinion of Rabbi, who rules that Kutim have the same status as non-Jews, and is against the position of Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel who rules that they are considered Jewish. The term Kutim (Samaritans) refers to the nations (not all of whom were truly Kutim, as there were people from other nations, as well) that were exiled to the Land of Israel by the kings of Assyria who were interested in populating the land after they had removed the Israelite people from it. According to Sefer Melakhim (see II Melakhim, chapter 17), these nations converted to Judaism because of their fear of lions that had begun attacking them (from which derives the term gerei arayot – "lion converts"), but they continued worshiping their gods at the same time. Upon the return of the Jews to Israel at the beginning of the Second Temple period, the Samaritans, descendants of the Kutim, were active in trying to keep the returnees from rebuilding the Temple and the walls of the city of Jerusalem. Even so, there were families – including members of the kohanim – who intermarried with the Samaritans. During the following years there were continued tensions between the two communities, and Yohanan Hyrcanus led his troops into battle against the Samaritans and destroyed the temple that they had built on Har Gerizim. Nevertheless, there were also periods of cooperation, such as the period of the Bar Kokhba rebellion. As is clear in our Gemara, the attitude of the Sages towards them differed, although after a period of time a final conclusion was reached and they were ruled to be treated as non-Jews, due to their continued involvement with different types of idol worship. It is important to note that the Gemara in Yevamot concludes that while a bet din should not accept potential converts whose reason for converting is anything other than a sincere desire to join the Jewish People, nevertheless, if such a person does undergo a full conversion process they are considered Jewish according to halakha. It is possible that the Kutim did not fall into that category because they continued with their idolatrous practices even at the moment of their conversion. Nevertheless, today, the community of Samaritans living in Israel are no longer idol worshipers, and there has been some level of acceptance of them into the larger Jewish community.
Shekalim 3a-b: Marking Graves in Preparation for Pesah
24/03/2021 - 11th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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In the first Mishna in Massekhet Shekalim (2a) we are taught that on the first day of the month of Adar we announce that people should begin to bring their shekalim. The Mishna teaches a number of other activities that take place during Adar, among them the celebration of Purim, and public works that need to be done as the rainy season in Israel draws to a close. These public works projects include a number of activities in preparation for the groups of people who will be traveling to Jerusalem for Pesah – for example, clearing the roads and mikva'ot and marking graves so that the people who are coming to bring sacrifices will not, inadvertently, become ritually defiled by contact with a grave and be unable to enter the Temple.
The Gemara asks: From where is the obligation of marking graves derived?…Rabbi Ila in the name of Rabbi Shmuel bar Nahman cited a different verse in this regard: “And when they that pass through shall pass through the land, and anyone sees a man’s bone, then shall he set up a sign by it, till the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamon-gog” (Yehezkel 39:15). This verse explicitly states that there is a need to mark graves.
This passage from Yehezkel describes the calamity of the war of Gog and Magog, and how it will take seven months for all of the dead to be properly buried so that the land of Israel will once again be tahor (ritually pure). The prophet describes the method that is to be used to carefully mark the graves, bone by bone. This source for the halakha that graves must be marked (see Rambam, Hilkhot Tum'at Met 8:9) appears in Massekhet Mo'ed Katan, while it is introduced as a remez – a hint – to the law, rather than as the actual source. Given the clarity of the story in Yehezkel, many of the commentaries ask why the passage is only considered a remez. From Rashi it appears that since it is not presented as an obligation, but rather as a story, it cannot be considered a true source. Tosafot suggest that the story can only be considered a hint to the halakha because it is a description of an event that will take place "at the end of days." Such a story cannot be the source for a present day halakhic obligation. It should be noted that our Gemara, which as we explained above is Yerushalmi, presents this as a true source text, not simply as a remez. In fact, it is not uncommon to find the Bavli discounting a source unless it appears in the hamisha humshei Torah (the Five Books of Moses), while the Yerushalmi accepts other sources from Tanakh as well.
Shekalim 2a-b: Bringing the Half-Shekel
23/03/2021 - 10th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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As the Torah tells us (see Shemot 30:11-16) every Jewish adult male was commanded to bring a mahatzit ha-shekel – a half-shekel – as a donation to the Temple service. It is clear from stories in Tanakh that this obligation was not just for use in the mishkan in the desert, but was an on-going requirement for as long as the Temple stood. The story of the re-dedication of the Temple by King Yeho'ash – and his specific request that the mahatzit ha-shekel be brought – appears both in Sefer Melakhim (II Melakhim 12:5-6, where it is called kesef over, a reference to the person who is over al ha-pekudim, see Shemot 30:13) and in Divrei ha-Yamim (II Divrei ha-Yamim 24:9-14, where it is referred to as mas'at Moshe – Moshe's tax). We also find this commandment mentioned during the Second Temple period. In Sefer Nehemiah (10:33-34) we learn that the yearly tax was one-third of a shekel, whose purpose was to pay for the communal sacrifices. The value of a shekel varied with time, and in every generation it was necessary to figure out the exchange rate so that the value of a half shekel would be given in the currency of that time. According to the Ramban, the Persian money was worth more so the value of one-third of a shekel was the equivalent of the half-shekel of the Torah. During the time of the Mishna the shekel was worth half of a sela, so that one Mishnaic shekel was the equivalent of the Biblical half-shekel, which is why we will find the Mishna referring to a shekel when discussing this mitzva.
Mishna: On the first of Adar the court proclaims concerning the collection of shekels... Gemara: And why specifically on the first of Adar? The Gemara answers: This was done in order that Jews would bring their shekels to the designated Temple chamber in the proper time, as the shekels had to be collected before the beginning of Nisan each year. And this would ensure that the collection of the Temple treasury chamber would be collected from the new shekels at its proper time, which is on the first of the month of Nisan, i.e., the beginning of the Temple year. After that date all communal offerings must be purchased from the new shekels.
Pesaḥim 121a-b: Redeeming the Firstborn
22/03/2021 - 9th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The very last Mishna in the massekhet deals with the various blessings made when eating the sacrifices at the seder during the Temple period. Can the general berakha on the korban hagiga brought for the holiday cover the korban Pesah, as well, or does each need its own berakha? According to the Mishna, this question is debated by Rabbi Yishmael, who believes that one may cover the other, and Rabbi Akiva, who believes that, under all circumstances, each will need its own berakha. From this discussion the Gemara segues to a question about pidyon ha-ben - redeeming the first-born.
Rabbi Simlai attended a redemption of the firstborn son. The celebrants raised a dilemma before him with regard to the blessings. First they noted that it is obvious that the blessing over the redemption of a first born son, which is: Who sanctified us with His mitzvot and commanded us over the redemption of the firstborn son, is certainly recited by the father of the son, as he is the one obligated to redeem his son. However with regard to the second blessing: Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has given us life [sheheheyanu], sustained us, and brought us to this time, does the priest recite this blessing, or does the father of the son recite it?
The Gemara concludes that the question was presented to the scholars in the Bet Midrash and they ruled that the father makes both berakhot. The Nemukei Yosef explains the question as follows: On the one hand, the father who is performing the mitzva is doing it with some financial outlay, so perhaps the kohen should say it, since his participation involves only benefit to himself. On the other hand, in this case the father is enjoying something that goes well beyond the performance of a mitzva. Since the pidyon ha-ben takes place only after 30 days, when we are certain that the baby has reached a level that he will not be considered a nefel (stillborn), there is certainly an additional element of joy for the father. The Rashash comments on this Gemara that really both parties should be saying she-heheyanu, each for their own reason. The Gemara's question is which of them has a greater level of obligation, so that he should say it on behalf of both participants.
Pesaḥim 120a-b: Eating Before Midnight
21/03/2021 - 8th of Nisan, 5781
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The last Mishnayot in Massekhet Pesahim return to the discussion of the korban Pesah itself, within the context of eating it at the seder. The Mishna on our daf teaches that if all of the people fell asleep, then their korban Pesah cannot be eaten - explained in the Yerushalmi as due to the fact that people need to be thinking about the sacrifice, something that they cannot have been doing if they were asleep. Furthermore, according to the Mishna, if the korban is not eaten by midnight it becomes notar - leftover - and cannot be eaten. The Gemara identifies the position that the korban Pesah must be eaten by midnight with Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya, who understands the command to eat the sacrifice ba-layla ha-zeh (Shemot 12:8) to mean the same time that God traveled through Egypt for Makat Bekhorot, the last of the plagues, which took place at midnight ba-layla ha-zeh (see 12:12). Rabbi Akiva disagrees with this reading of the pasuk and argues that it can be eaten throughout the night, reasoning that ba-layla simply teaches us that it is a unique korban that can only be eaten at night and not on the following day. The Jerusalem Talmud suggests that even Rabbi Akiva agrees that as a Rabbinic ordinance - in order to avoid the possibility of eating the korban past its time - the korban Pesah must be consumed by midnight. Based on this understanding of Rabbi Akiva, the Mishna that declares the Passover sacrifice to be notar after midnight can be Rabbi Akiva's position, as well, just on a Rabbinic level. The Shulhan Aruk (Orah Hayyim 477:1) recommends that we finish the last matza - the afikoman - at our seder before midnight as the matza today represents the korban Pesah that we can no longer bring. The Rema (ibid) goes so far as to suggest that Hallel should also be completed before midnight, since it accompanied the sacrifice during the times of the Temple.
Pesaḥim 119a-b: After Eating the Korban
20/03/2021 - 7th of Nisan, 5781
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The answer that we give to the "wise son" at the seder is ein maftirin ahar ha-pesah afikoman - that we do not eat any dessert after the Passover sacrifice is eaten. This phrase appears in the Mishna on our daf, and with it we close the Mishna's discussion of the seder night (in fact, the answer being given to the "wise son" most probably means that he should be taught all of the halakhot in the Mishna that deal with the seder, up to and including this Mishna). Although the intent of this halakha is clear, the language of the Mishna is somewhat obscure. Clearly eating after the korban Pesah is consumed is forbidden; according to the Me'iri, this is so that it will be eaten al ha'sova - as the final ka-zayit (olive-sized portion) of a filling meal. The word maftirin is understood by the Bartenura to mean “to open” or “begin” - as in peter rekhem (see Shemot 13:2) - meaning in our context to begin eating something else after the korban. Rashi and the Rashbam interpret it as “to end” - that the meal should not end with something else, but only with the sacrifice. The Gemara itself asks what an afikoman is and quotes:
  • Rav, who holds that it means you cannot leave your group and go to another after the korban was eaten,
  • Shmuel, who says that you cannot have the usual delicacies at the end of a meal (what we would call dessert), and
  • Rabbi Yohanan who says that it includes dates or nuts that are eaten with the meal.
Suggestions abound for a definition of the term afikoman. The Mekhtam suggests that it is an abbreviation of two words:
  • according to Rav, afiku mani ("remove the utensils")
  • according to Shmuel, afiku mini ("bring out dessert")
The Yerushalmi brings an opinion that it means music that is played at the end of a festive meal, leading to the conclusion of some rishonim that even speaking should be limited after the eating of the Pesah.
Pesaḥim 118a-b: Praising God
19/03/2021 - 6th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Aside from the standard Hallel (Tehillim 113-118) that is recited during the seder, we also are instructed by the baraita on our daf to say Hallel ha-Gadol. Although there is a disagreement recorded in the Gemara regarding which psalms make up Hallel ha-Gadol, we follow the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda who says that it is the whole of Tehillim 136. Tehillim 136 encompasses 26 praises of God from the time of creation through the Jewish People entering the Land of Israel. Having introduced Hallel ha-Gadol as part of the praise said during the seder, the question is raised why we usually choose to recite the standard Hallel instead. The Gemara points out five unique areas that are focused on in the standard Hallel which make it appropriate:
  1. Exodus from Egypt (114:1)
  2. Splitting of the Red Sea (114:3)
  3. Giving of the Torah (114:4)
  4. Resurrecting the dead (116:9)
  5. The pangs of the Messiah (115:1)
The discussion of Hallel leads to further aggadic discussions of these chapters in Tehillim, concluding with a number of teachings that Rabbi Yishmael b'Rabbi Yosei quoted in the name of his father. One of them was an analysis of Tehillim 117, which describes how all the nations of the world praise God because of what He did on behalf of the Jewish people. The question is obvious - why should the nations of the world praise God because of what he did for us? Rabbi Yosei taught that the intention of the passage is to say that we should watch the nations of the world praise God when He does something for them, and learn how much we are obligated to praise Him since His generosity to us was even greater. Rabbi Yosei’s teachings about related issues are also brought in the Gemara. Based on the passage in Tehillim (68:30) we see that, in the future, Egypt will want to bring an offering to the Messiah, who is not sure whether to accept it from them. God commands (68:32) him to accept it in recognition of the fact that the Jewish people lived peacefully in Egypt for many years before slavery began. Seeing this, Kush also expresses a desire to bring an offering to the Messiah (ibid), and again, God commands him to accept it. Rome, on the other hand (68:31) wants to join the show of respect, as well. God rejects their request, however. Rabbi Hiyya bar Abba quotes Rabbi Yohanan as explaining the passage to mean that the offering of wild bulls (Rome), whose actions are all written in one quill, cannot be accepted. Rashi and the Rashbam understand the reference to a single quill as meaning that they always intend evil for the Jewish people. Some of the Ge'onim explain this expression to mean that the activities of this nation can be summed up in a clear, straightforward manner. Others explain that every nation has two angels, one of whom records the positive attributes of the nation, while the other records all of its negative attributes. Rome is described as having only one angel - the evil one - writing down its history.
Pesaḥim 117a-b: The Fifth Cup
18/03/2021 - 5th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna on our daf concludes the discussion of the seder with the last two of the four cups. The Mishna teaches that the third cup accompanies the grace after meals, and the fourth cup accompanies the completion of Hallel. The Mishna also teaches that no other wine can be drunk between these last two cups. The Jerusalem Talmud explains the prohibition against drinking between these cups of wine as stemming from a concern lest the participants in the seder become drunk, for drinking before the meal or during the meal is not as intoxicating as wine drunk after the meal without any other food. The Ge'onim simply explain that this is connected to the general prohibition against eating anything after the afikoman - the last matza eaten at the end of the seder - aside from what is expressly commanded by the Sages. The Ra'avad argues that drinking more wine toward the end of the seder would have the effect of hiding the unique four cups that we drink on this night. In order to emphasize the celebration of the miracle of the Exodus through these four cups (see Pesahim 99), we cannot add to them. It is interesting to note that there are variant readings of this Mishna, one of which suggests that there is a fifth cup on which Hallel ha-Gadol (see full explanation on daf 118) is recited. This was, apparently, the version of the Mishna that appeared before the Rif and Rabbenu Hananel, who rule that there is a mitzva to drink a fifth cup, as well. Even the Rambam, who rules that there is no obligation to drink a fifth cup, allows one to do so. It appears that this disagreement is the source for our Kos shel Eliyahu, which is poured towards the end of the seder, but is not drunk. Tradition has it that it is left for the prophet Eliyahu who visits every Jewish home on the seder night, foreshadowing the ultimate redemption..
Pesaḥim 116a-b: Moving on to Maggid
17/03/2021 - 4th of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The main part of the Maggid section of the Haggada is described in the Mishnayot on our daf. Its key components include:
  1. The four questions (Ma nishtana)
  2. Begin with disgrace but conclude with glory (mat'hil be-genut u-messayem be-shevah)
  3. Tell the story based on the passage in Devarim 26:5-9 (Arami oved avi)
  4. The need to explain the role of Pesah, Matza and Maror
  5. The inclusion of Hallel in the story
With regard to the questions, ideally the child is supposed to be drawn to ask questions by our behavior at the seder meal. The Nemukei Yosef says that it is the second cup of wine poured that should elicit questions: If we just made Kiddush, why are we bringing a second cup, which appears to be preparation for birkat ha-mazon, if we haven't yet eaten the meal?! According to the Tosafot Rid, it is the karpas that should get the children's attention: Why are we skipping ha-motzi over bread tonight and going straight to the vegetables instead?
It was taught in the mishna that the father begins his answer with disgrace and concludes with glory. The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of the term: With disgrace? Rav said that one should begin by saying: At first our forefathers were idol worshippers, before concluding with words of glory. And Shmuel said: The disgrace with which one should begin his answer is: We were slaves.
The Maharal writes in his Gevurot HaShem that their disagreement is over which of these should be considered the greatest generosity of God towards the Jewish people. Was it, as Rav understands, the spiritual redemption, or was it, as Shmuel believes, the physical redemption that we celebrate on this night? Although Hallel is a central part of the seder, it is only the conclusion of the maggid section. Some commentaries say that we do not say a blessing over Hallel during the seder, because it is divided into two parts. Rav Hai Ga'on suggests that it is not recited as praise, but as a song that accompanies the seder, so no berakha is made. According to the Massekhet Sofrim, we are obligated to say Hallel in the synagogue as part of our prayers before we begin the seder. The berakha is made on that recitation of the Hallel, so there is no need to make a blessing over it again at the seder.
Pesaḥim 115a-b: Fulfilling Two Mitzvot Together
16/03/2021 - 3rd of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
When we sit down to the seder, among the most important mitzvot that we fulfill is eating matza and maror. Our tradition is to first make the appropriate blessings (ha-motzi and al akhilat matza) on the matza, then to make the blessing on the maror (al akhilat maror - the blessing of bori pri ha-adama having already been recited on the karpas - see the discussion on the last daf, and finally to make a sandwich from them together, reminding us of Hillel's tradition during Temple times. This tradition is based on the conclusion of our Gemara, which points out that Hillel was of the opinion that ein mitzvot mevatlot zo et zo - that two mitzvot done together do not negate one another. That is to say, that the commandment to eat matza (or maror) does not need to be done on its own and can be done in conjunction with another commandment. Hillel argues that this is the intention of the passage (Bamidbar 9:11) al matzot u-merarim yokhluhu - that the Passover sacrifice will be eaten together with the matza and the maror. The Aruk points out that this will only be true if both of the commandments being fulfilled at the same time are on the same level - that they are both Biblical commands. If, however, one of them was on a lower level (for example, if one of them was only a Rabbinic obligation), then it is likely that we would rule that they could not be done together. Since the accepted halakha is that since the destruction of the Temple - with the korban Pesah no longer being sacrificed - maror is only a Rabbinic obligation, we can no longer eat matza and maror together. Thus we first eat them separately and only afterwards eat them together as a remembrance of what Hillel did in the time of the Mikdash. This point is actually made in the Gemara itself, where Hillel is quoted as saying that in our day eating matza is a Biblical command while eating maror is only Rabbinic, so the two cannot be eaten together. Rav Ya'akov Emden points out that that this Hillel quoted by the Gemara does not appear to be Hillel ha-Zaken, Shammai's contemporary, head of the Sanhedrin, who lived during the time of the Temple. More likely it is his descendant, one of the last nessi'im of the Jewish community in Israel, who established the set calendar that is still used to our day
Pesaḥim 114a-b: Double Dip
15/03/2021 - 2nd of Nisan, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna on our daf discusses one of the famous "four questions" of the Seder. Here we learn about the first of the two "dippings," this one is what we call karpas, that is dipped in salt water. The second "dipping" is, of course, the maror, the bitter herbs that are dipped in haroset. The example that the Gemara uses as the vegetable for karpas is hazeret, a type of bitter herb that can also be used for the maror. The fact that you could, potentially, eat this herb at the beginning of the Seder as an appetizer and then later in the meal as the fulfillment of the mitzva of maror, leads Reish Lakish to conclude that mitzvot tzerihot kavvana – that in order to fulfill a commandment you must have intention to do so (otherwise there would be no need to eat the maror a second time – you would have already fulfilled the mitzva, albeit a little early on, at the beginning of the Seder).
The Gemara rejects this contention: From where do you know that this is the case? Perhaps I can say that actually mitzvot do not require intent. And that which you said, why do I need two dippings, perhaps the reason is so that there should be a conspicuous distinction for the children, which will cause them to inquire into the difference between this night and all others.
The Tosafot Yom Tov explains the oddity in the "double dip" by pointing out that wealthy people eat vegetables during the meal as an appetizer, while poor people eat them before the meal so that they will fill themselves up. Thus, eating vegetables both before and during the meal should provoke questions. With regard to the question of mitzvot tzerihot kavvana, the Maharam Halava points out that the discussion is whether a person needs to be aware that he is doing a mitzva. No one would obligate a person to think about the deep meaning of the mitzva in order to fulfill it. Rav Hai Ga'on rules that although the conclusion of the Gemara seems to be that a person does not need to have intent in order to fulfill mitzvot, nevertheless a person should do his best to have intent, and he should strive to focus in on the performance of the mitzva to the best of his ability. In fact we find many short prayers that have been established to be said before the performance of a mitzva in order to encourage as high a level of intent as possible.
Pesaḥim 113a-b: One Who is Despised by God
14/03/2021 - 1st of Nisan, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara often makes use of a statement of aggada to segue to a broader discussion of non-halakhic matters. The teachings of Rabbi Akiva to his son, which appeared on yesterday's daf, lead the Gemara to quote from a collection of statements made by individual Sages to their children, many of them referring to issues of a mystical and, on occasion, personal, nature. One list that is presented tells us about three people who are loved by God, and three that are despised by Him. The people who God loves include:
  • A person who does not get angry
  • A person who does not get drunk
  • Someone who is willing to concede his position
The people who God despises are:
  • Someone whose speech does not express his true feelings
  • Someone who withholds testimony on behalf of his fellow that he knows
  • A single individual who comes to testify about a sexual matter
The Maharsha points out that all of these cases – both the positive list and the negative one – are people whose actions and behaviors affect his relationship with his fellow man, teaching us that someone who gets along with others is loved by God and someone who does not get along with others is hated by Him.
The Gemara gives an example of the last case of someone despised by God. This is like that incident where Tuveya sinned with immorality, and Zigud came alone to testify about him before Rav Pappa. Rav Pappa instructed that Zigud be lashed. Zigud said to him: Tuveya sinned and Zigud is lashed, an objection that became a popular saying. He said to him: Yes, as it is written: "One witness shall not rise up against a man" (Devarim 19:15), and you testified against him alone. You have merely given him a bad reputation.
The problem with a person testifying on his own is that Jewish law does not accept the testimony of a single witness, except in monetary cases where the testimony of a single witness will lead to a ruling that the accused must take an oath that he does not owe the money. In other cases, where the court cannot act based on the single witness, it is simply slander to tell stories about another (see Shulhan Arukh, Hoshen Mishpat 28:1).
Pesaḥim 112a-b: Accepting Charity to Fulfill the Mitzva of the Four Cups
13/03/2021 - 29th of Adar, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In the Mishna (99b) we learned that even a poor person should be sure to have four cups of wine to drink, even if it means accepting it from the charity kitchen. The Gemara on our daf asks why the Mishna needs to teach us that someone should take money from charity to fulfill the mitzva of drinking four cups. Isn't it obvious that if someone needs to fulfill a mitzva that he should accept money from charity?
The Gemara answers: The mishna is necessary only to teach that this halakha applies even according to the opinion of Rabbi Akiva, who said: Make your Shabbat like an ordinary weekday and do not be beholden to other beings. If one is unable to honor Shabbat without financial help from others, it is better for him to save money and eat his Shabbat meals as he would on a weekday rather than rely on other people. Here, in the case of the four cups, Rabbi Akiva concedes that it is appropriate for a poor person to request assistance from the community, due to the obligation to publicize the miracle.
Having presented Rabbi Akiva's opinion, the Gemara quotes a series of statements that Rabbi Akiva taught his son Rabbi Yehoshua, the final one being the rule of avoiding charity even if it affects your Shabbat. Among them are:
  • "Do not sit at the high point of a city when you are learning Torah." The Seder ha-Dorot interprets this as an admonition to avoid learning Torah in a place where there are throngs of people. Torah should be studied in the quiet and privacy of home or the Bet Midrash.
  • "Do not live in a city whose leaders are Torah scholars." The Ben Yehoyada explains that the leader of the city is obligated to constantly remind the townsfolk of their misdemeanors, so they generally do not like him. Were he a Talmid Hakham, the people would likely share the hatred that they had for him to other Torah scholars, as well.
  • "Do not enter your home suddenly, and certainly you should not enter a neighbor's home without warning." In Massekhet Derekh Eretz this rule is supported by the passage in Sefer Bereshit (3:9) in which we find that God Himself "stood" at the entrance to the Garden of Eden and called out to Adam when he needed to admonish him about having eaten from the Etz ha-Da'at (Tree of Knowledge).