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

Rosh Hashana 12a-b: Tithes
21/10/2021 - 15th of Cheshvan, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna (2a) taught that the first day of Tishrei is the beginning of a new year for vegetables. The Gemara on our daf  clarifies that the intention of the Mishna is to teach that the ma'asrot – tithes that are taken from produce grown in Israel – begin a new season on the first day of Tishrei. The rules of terumot and ma'asrot – contributions given to the kohanim and levi'im from produce – are as follows:
  • When a farmer has completed his harvest and the produce reaches its final state of preparedness for market, teruma gedolah (about 1/50 of the produce) is set aside to be given to the kohen.
  • From the produce remaining, ma'aser rishon (1/10 of the remaining produce) is set aside for the levi. During the Second Temple period, when Ezra ha-Sofer found that few levi'im had joined those who returned to the Land of Israel, he ruled that this tithe could (or should) be given to kohanim.
  • From the produce remaining, another tenth is separated. In the first, second, fourth and fifth years of the seven year shemita cycle this produce is called ma'aser sheni – the second tithe – and is taken to Jerusalem where it is eaten (or it is redeemed and other food products are purchased with the proceeds, and eaten in Jerusalem). In the third and sixth years of the shemita cycle, the money is given to the poor as ma'aser ani – the poor man's tithe.
Which types of produce are obligated in these terumot and ma'asrot on a Biblical level is subject to a disagreement between the rishonim (which may be based on different positions taken by the Talmud Bavli and Talmud Yerushalmi). Generally speaking, vegetables are divided into three categories: dagan (grains), kitniyot (pulses), and yerakot (vegetables). Examples of dagan are wheat and barley, which are included in the seven species of produce of the Land of Israel. They are certainly included in the obligation of terumot and ma'asrot. Some opinions place kitniyot in that category, as well. All agree that the obligation of terumot and ma'asrot for yerakot is only of Rabbinic origin.
Rosh HaShana 11a-b: When the Redemption Will Take Place
20/10/2021 - 14th of Cheshvan, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
On yesterday's daf we learned that Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua disagree about the time of year when the world was created. There are some events of note that took place during the course of Jewish history that they agree about. Both agree, for example, that three barren women in Tanakh – Sarah, Rahel and Hannah – all gave birth on Rosh HaShana, and that Yosef was freed from prison on Rosh HaShana, as well. Furthermore, both agree that the Children of Israel were released from their work as slaves in Egypt on Rosh HaShana, even though their redemption from Egypt does not take place until Nisan. They differ, however, on the time of the ultimate redemption. Rabbi Eliezer believes that the final redemption will take place in Tishrei; Rabbi Yehoshua believes that it will happen in Nisan. Baraitot in the Gemara provide sources for dating all of these events, which, as we saw explained by the Ritva on yesterday's daf, are more hints and less definitive proofs. With regard to the time of the future redemption, where we find a disagreement, Rabbi Eliezer derives the occasion of redemption as Tishrei by comparing the commandment of shofar on Rosh HaShana to the shofar that will announce the coming of the Mashi'ah (see Yeshayahu 27:13); Rabbi Yehoshua derives it from a comparison between the ultimate redemption and the redemption from Egypt. The passage describing the redemption says that it took place on leil shimurim – a night of watching (see Shemot 12:42). The pesuk repeats the words leil shimurim a second time, which is understood by Rabbi Yehoshua as a reference not only to the redemption from Egypt, but an indication that this date was established from the moment of creation as a time of redemption, foretelling the ultimate redemption, as well. An interesting question is raised by R. Aryeh Leib in his Turei Even, who asks how a specific date can be placed on the coming of Mashi'ah, when the Gemara is clear that Mashi'ah can come at any time. In answer, he suggests that there are different Messianic paths that can take place. Mashi'ah can come be-itah – in its time – or ahishenah – in a hastened kind of way (see Yeshayahu 60:22). If it is in its time, there may be a specific date set for it. If it is "hastened" then it can come at any time. The Sefat Emet suggests that we must recognize the process involved in the coming of Mashi'ah. When Moshe comes to set the Children of Israel free from servitude in Egypt, he arrived well before the actual redemption takes place. Similarly in the future, Mashi'ah can come at any time, with the ultimate redemption set for either Nisan or Tishrei.
Rosh HaShana 10a-b: When the World Was Created
19/10/2021 - 13th of Cheshvan, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
We find a disagreement in our Gemara as to the time of year when the world was created. According to Rabbi Eliezer, the world was created in Tishrei. Similarly, the Avot – Avraham, Yitzhak and Ya'akov – were born and died in Tishrei. Rabbi Yehoshua argues that all of these events took place took place in Nisan. The rishonim (the Ran, for example) point out that Rabbi Eliezer does not really mean to say that the world was created in Tishrei, since it is the creation of Man which takes place on Rosh HaShana, the first day of Tishrei. Thus, the six days of creation began on the 25th day of the month of Elul. Nevertheless, he is expressing the idea that creation took place during the time of year when Tishrei occurs. Although both of these tanna'im bring textual support for their positions (see page 11a), the Ritva explains that none of the proofs is truly convincing, and that the passages quoted are, at best, hints brought in support of a tradition held by each of the Rabbis, or, perhaps, based on their logic in understanding which time of year it would be most logical for the world to have been created. The Maharal explains in great length that their disagreement stems from different views that each of them held with regards to a deep understanding of life and its meaning. According to the Maharal, the month of Nisan, which occurs in the Spring, represents the driving force of life that grows and blossoms, and compares it to the heart of Man. Tishrei, which falls in Autumn, expresses the holiness, spirituality and solemnity of life, which is the realm of the human mind. Which of these times of year is most appropriate for the creation of the world is the source for the argument between Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua.
Rosh HaShana 9a-b: Eating on the Ninth of Tishrei
18/10/2021 - 12th of Cheshvan, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The commandment to keep Yom Kippur (the tenth day of Tishrei) as a day of rest and solemnity teaches that we are commanded to begin on the ninth day of Tishrei, and continue from evening to evening (see Vayikra 23:32). The Gemara on our daf quotes Rabbi Yishmael as learning the rule of tosefet Yom ha-kippurim - beginning the holiday early and completing it late - from this passage, a rule that is then extended to Shabbat and Yom Tov, as well.
Hiyya bar Rav of Difti taught the following baraita: The verse states: "And you shall afflict your souls on the ninth of the month." Is the fasting on the ninth? But isn't the fasting on Yom Kippur on the tenth of Tishrei? Rather, this verse comes to teach you: Whoever eats and drinks on the ninth, thereby preparing himself for the fast on the next day, the verse ascribes him credit as though he fasted on both the ninth and the tenth.
This is generally understood to mean that there is a special mitzva to eat on the day before Yom Kippur. Several explanations are given for this law. Rashi and the Meiri suggest that since there is a mitzva to fast on the tenth, someone who spends the day before preparing for that mitzva is given credit for the preparation. The Eliya Rabba (Rabbi Elijah Shapira's gloss on the Shulhan Arukh) suggests otherwise. According to him, someone who eats a lot the day before the fast has a harder time refraining from eating on the fast day, therefore the person who spends the ninth of Tishrei eating is credited for having additional inuy (deprivation). Others point out that Yom Kippur is a holiday, a day on which we really should be eating and drinking. Since we cannot eat and drink on Yom Kippur, we "make up" for it on erev Yom Kippur. Finally, some explain that this is preparation for the mitzva of expressing regret and asking for forgiveness. Since someone who is well-fed is less likely to be irritable and get into disagreements, we are commanded to put ourselves into such a position so that we will be better suited to be remorseful and apologize.
Rosh HaShana 8a-b: Freeing the Slaves
17/10/2021 - 11th of Cheshvan, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
One of the most progressive laws commanded in the Torah was that of yovel - the Jubilee Year - when all Jewish slaves were set free, and fields that had been purchased returned to their original owners. The Mishna (2a) teaches that the yovel begins on the first day of Tishrei, which, our Gemara points out, seems to contradict the simple reading of the Torah. The pasuk - see Vayikra 25:9-10 - commands that the blast of the shofar announcing the Jubilee year - together with the freedom of slaves and the return of land - should take place on Yom Kippur, the tenth day of Tishrei. In answer to this question, the Gemara introduces us to the teaching of Rabbi Yohanan ben Beroka, who rules that the holiness of the yovel year begins on the first of Tishrei but that its regulations only take effect later on. Thus, beginning with the first of Tishrei, slaves no longer work for their masters, but they do not yet go home; rather, they eat, drink and rejoice, wearing their crowns. On Yom Kippur the shofar announcing the Jubilee year is sounded, and the newly freed slaves return home. Rashi understands the ruling that the slaves sit "with crowns on their heads" as indicating that they are now free men who can wear crowns should they choose to do so. A similar idea is expressed by the Ritva, who explains that it is an expression indicating that the slaves can now behave like free men. The Meiri, however, quotes the Talmud Yerushalmi (our version of the Talmud Yerushalmi does not include this) as saying that this refers to covering the head with a sudar - a scarf or turban - which was the style of free men, not of slaves. This expression of freedom is one that we refer to daily as part of our morning prayers in the berakha of oter yisrael betifarah - thanking God for covering us with glory. Historically, it is interesting to note that during the times of the Mishna, it was commonplace in Roman society for the free men to wear olive wreaths on their heads during times of celebration, something that a slave could never do. The week and a half between Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur is described by Rabbi Yohanan ben Beroka as days of celebration, and it is certainly possible that the popular celebratory wreaths were worn by the former slaves on that occasion.
Rosh HaShana 7a-b: The Source for Nissan as the First Month
16/10/2021 - 10th of Cheshvan, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
We learned in the Mishna (2a) that the month of Nisan is the first month of the year with regard to counting the months. Our Gemara searches for a source for this law, beginning with the command in the Torah that declares the month of the exodus from Egypt to be the first month of the year (see Shemot 12:2). The difficulty in establishing this as a definitive source stems from the fact that the names of the months that are currently in use in the Hebrew calendar are never mentioned in the Torah. Thus the Gemara turns to Nakh (the Nevi’im - Prophets, and Ketuvim - Sacred Writings) to identify the months of the calendar by name and numbering:
  • Ravina points out that in Sefer Zekhariyah (1:7), for example, Shevat is referred to as the eleventh month.
  • Rabba bar Ulla notes that in Megillat Esther (2:16) Tevet is referred to as the tenth month.
  • Rav Kahana shows that in Sefer Zekhariyah (7:1) Kislev is mentioned as the ninth month.
  • Rav Aha bar Ya'akov points to another passage in Megillat Esther (8:9) that refers to Sivan as the third month. Finally, Rav Ashi quotes a pasuk from Megillat Esther (3:7), which first calls Adar the twelfth month and then goes on to clearly call Nisan the first month.
The Gemara asks: And all of the others, what is the reason that they did not say that it is derived from here, the last verse mentioned, which is explicitly referring to Nisan as the first month? The Gemara answers: It is because one could perhaps have said: What is meant here by first? It means the first in relation to its matter, i.e., the months of the decree, and so it cannot be proven from here that Nisan is the first of the months of the year.
Even though the last passage brought up by the amora'im is the clearest one of all, the Gemara explains that it does not constitute the best proof, since it may simply be saying that Nisan was the beginning - the first month - of Haman's plot against the Jews. The Maharsha points out that according to this logic, none of the months mentioned in Megillat Esther can act as sources, since all of them may be counting from the beginning of the plot against the Jews. Although he leaves the question standing, this is a topic already discussed by rishonim. The Ritva explains that it may be common to announce a given date as the beginning of a particular happening, but it would be unusual to count from that date later on in the process. The Rosh argues that once it was established when the process began, it would be without purpose to repeat it over and over again. Tosafot quote the Yerushalmi, which points out that the underlying assumption in this Gemara is that we rely on the tradition that the people had regarding the order of the months as we know them today. Without that piece of information, the entire proof-text of pesukim makes no sense.
Rosh HaShana 6a-b: Don't Delay in Fulfilling a Promise
15/10/2021 - 9th of Cheshvan, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Torah (Devarim 23:22) teaches that a person who accepts upon himself to bring a sacrifice cannot postpone fulfilling his promise. This mitzva, referred to by the Sages as bal te'aher - "do not be late [in bringing your sacrifice]" - is followed by another pesuk (see Devarim 23:24), that emphasizes the need for one to fulfill all promises that he/she makes as a positive commandment, including - according to the interpretation of the Sages - promises made to charity. How long does a person have to carry out his/her obligations before being held liable for bal te'aher? Regarding sacrifices, the generally accepted position of the Sages is that a person has a full cycle of holidays - Pesah, Shavu'ot and Sukkot - to bring the commitments that were made to the Temple. Regarding charity, however, Rava teaches that it must be given immediately after the commitment is made. He explains that, unlike a sacrifice that must be brought to the Temple, poor people are always accessible, so it must be given right away. Several positions exist in understanding Rava's teaching.
  • According to the Ri"f, the Ritva and others, Rava's halakha only applies when there are, in fact, poor people located in the vicinity. If no poor people were immediately available, the person would not have to search for a poor person until three festivals had passed.
  • The Rashba argues that there is no difference whether a deserving poor person is available or not. In either case there is an immediate mitzvat aseh - a positive commandment - to find a poor person who will accept the charity. Nevertheless, no transgression of bal te'aher, the negative commandment, will take place until after the cycle of holidays has passed. Rava's statement that poor people are readily available merely explains why the mitzvat aseh is immediately incumbent upon him.
  • The Ran explains that the year-long extension allowed to the person who takes upon himself the obligation of a korban only makes sense in the context of sacrifices that will be brought to the Temple, usually during one of the pilgrimage holidays. Rava teaches that this concept has no place in a discussion about charity; therefore tzedaka must be given immediately, and someone who does not do so both misses his opportunity to fulfill the positive command and also transgresses bal te'aher.
Rosh HaShana 5a-b: Staying Overnight in Jerusalem
14/10/2021 - 8th of Cheshvan, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Our daf opens with a discussion of the obligation of lina- staying over in Jerusalem even after having sacrificed the obligatory korbanot associated with the three pilgrimage holidays of Pesah, Shavu'ot and Sukkot. Regarding the holiday of Passover, the Torah (Devarim 16:7) commands that the korban Pesah must be eaten in the place chosen by God and that "you shall turn in the morning and go to your tents." This passage is understood by the Sifre as commanding people who come to the Temple to stay overnight, leaving only the next morning. This obligation is explained by the Sefat Emet as stemming from a desire to show that a visit to the Temple is not simply a brief stopover, but is rather a significant, overnight stay. How long does one need to remain in Jerusalem in order to fulfill the obligation of lina? We find three main positions on this question:
  • Rashi teaches that a person must stay until the morning after the first day of the holiday.
  • Tosafot argue that for Pesah and Sukkot, which are each weeklong holidays, a person must stay for the entire Yom Tov.
  • Another opinion suggests that we must differentiate between Sukkot, where a person is obligated to remain in Jerusalem for the entire holiday, and Pesah, where the obligation is to remain only the first day. The need to remain for all of Sukkot is supported by the need to bring a unique sacrifice on each day of the holiday (called parei ha-hag, see Bamidbar 29:12-38) and is further suggested by the simple reading of the story of the consecration of the Temple in Sefer Melakhim (see I Melakhim 8:65-66).
The Ritva suggests another approach, which distinguishes between the obligation that stems from the sacrifice, which is only one day, and the obligation that stems from the holiday itself, which will obligate people to remain until the Yom Tov is over.
Rosh HaShana 4a-b: A Full-Fledged Righteous Person
13/10/2021 - 7th of Cheshvan, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In the course of a discussion about the Persian King Koresh, who was known to have brought sacrifices to God together with prayers on behalf of himself and his children (see Ezra 6:10), the Gemara on our daf  quotes a baraita that teaches the virtues of giving tzedaka, even with an ulterior motive. According to the baraita, a person who donates a sum of money so that his children will be healthy or so that he will merit a share in the World-to-Come is considered to be a tzaddik gamur - a full-fledged righteous person. As can be imagined, the commentaries question why the title of tzaddik gamur is applied to such a person. It would seem more logical to offer that honor to a person who gave charity for altruistic reasons. Moreover, the well-known Mishna in Pirkei Avot (1:3) teaches that a person should serve the Creator like a servant who does not expect any reward from his master. A simple approach to this can be found in Rabbeinu Hananel, who offers an alternative reading of the Gemara. According to Rabbeinu Hananel, the baraita does not say that the individual is a tzaddik gamur, but rather that the donation is tzedakah gemura - it is considered a legitimate contribution and, that is to say, his desire for reward does not negate the value of his act. Rashi adds the words im ragil bekakh - if he makes a habit of such donations. According to this approach, one who regularly gives tzedaka and makes receiving a reward a condition for his contributions may still be called a tzaddik gamur, as long as he pays no attention to whether or not he actually receives the reward. The Maharal explains that we must take into account the person's intention when making the donation. A person who sees his donation mainly as an "investment," on which he expects a return, cannot be considered a tzaddik gamur. If he gives the tzedaka for the sake of Heaven and simply hopes and prays that it will play a role in making him deserving of reward, such a person can be considered a tzaddik gamur. Finally, the Ran suggests in his derashot that we must distinguish between a tzaddik and a hasid, a pious person. Someone who gives charity - even with ulterior motives - has done what he is obligated to do and is considered righteous. To be considered pious - which is the level expected by the Mishna in Pirkei Avot - a person must be pure of mind and intention..
Rosh HaShana 3a-b: The King of Arad
12/10/2021 - 6th of Cheshvan, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara on our daf examines the background of one of the Canaanite kings who attacked the Children of Israel during the exodus from Egypt. The passage in Bamidbar 33:40 describes how the Canaanite king of Arad heard of the approach of the Children of Israel and waged a war against them, taking captives. The Gemara asks what it was that he heard that made him feel this was a moment in which Bnei Yisrael were vulnerable. Our daf goes on to explain that it was the sudden absence of the ananei ha-kavod (the clouds of glory that had accompanied them on their desert journeys up to that point) after Aharon ha-Kohen's death (see Bamidbar 33:38-39) that gave him the sense that it was an opportune time to attack. (Tosafot point out that the discussion is not about the passage in Bamidbar 21:1, since that pasuk clearly indicates what the king heard.) In an attempt to clarify the identity of the king of Arad, whose exploits seem to be similar to those attributed to other kings, the Gemara claims that he had a number of names. One suggestion is that his true name was Sihon; he was called Canaan because that was the name of his kingdom, and the nickname Arad stems from his sharing attributes with the arod - the wild donkey of the desert. From a variety of sources it appears that the arod is one of two types of wild donkeys - equus hemionus, the Onager, or equus africanus, the African wild ass. The African donkey apparently existed in the land of Israel at that time. These animals are similar in their body structure and lifestyle to horses, and they live in dry areas and in the desert. With the domestication of almost all donkeys, few species now exist in the wild.
Rosh HaShana 2a-b: The Four New Years
11/10/2021 - 5th of Cheshvan, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The opening Mishna in Massekhet Rosh HaShana teaches that the halakha recognizes four separate dates as being new years, with each one defining the beginning of a new cycle for that particular idea or event. The four new years are:
  • The first day of Nissan, which begins the new year for kings and holidays
  • The first day of Elul, which begins the new year for tithes taken from flocks of animals
  • The first day of Tishrei, which begins the new year for counting years, including shemita (the Sabbatical year) and yovel (the Jubilee year), as well as planting trees and tithes on vegetables
  • The first (according to Beit Shammai according to Beit Hillel it is the 15th) of Shevat, which begins the new year for tithes on fruit.
The Gemara will go on to explain each of these items individually. On our daf the focus is on the first day of Nissan, which is the new year for kings. Given the fact that monarchs usually had lifetime positions, why was there a need to establish a particular calendar day that was the beginning of his reign? Theoretically, a king's reign should begin whenever he took office. Rav Hisda explains that "for kings" means for dating contracts. It was common practice under a given monarchy that the year that would appear in a contract was not the number of years since creation or from an arbitrary point in history, but how many years into the current king's reign. Rashi explains that this was done for reasons of shalom malkhut-- to stay on good terms with the king by honoring him in every matter. Tosafot point out that since the Mishna refers only to Jewish kings (some say that the Mishna's use of the plural "kings" is to indicate that both kings of Judea and kings of the northern kingdom of Israel were included), shalom malkhut should not apply. They argue that this was simply the common method of dating contracts at that time. The Mordekhai and the Ge'onim point out that these days become minor holidays, given their description by the Mishna as Rosh HaShana. Therefore a day like the 15th of Shevat becomes a day of celebration to the extent that neither fasting nor eulogies are permitted.
Beitza 40a-b: He Who Hung the Meat
10/10/2021 - 4th of Cheshvan, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we have discussed on the previous dapim, both a person and his possessions are limited by the rules of tehumim (boundaries) on Shabbat and Yom Tov. Therefore, a person cannot walk more than 2,000 cubits outside of his city on Shabbat or Yom Tov. By creating an eiruv tehumim – a meal placed on the perimeter of the 2,000 cubit limit – he can extend the area that he is permitted to walk 2,000 cubits in that direction (although what he has actually done is shifted the circle in which he is permitted to travel so that its center is no longer in the city, but at one edge of the city limits). The Mishna on our daf teaches that a person who has guests come and visit on Yom Tov from the next city (i.e. they created an eiruv tehumim that allowed them to travel to him; he did not create such an eiruv so neither he nor his possessions can go to their city), cannot give them food to take back home with them, since the food belongs to him and is therefore limited to areas that he is allowed to go to.
The Gemara relates: Rav Hana bar Hanilai once hung meat on the bar of the door of his host's house, located outside his own town. He subsequently wondered if he was permitted to take the meat home with him, since he had made an eiruv enabling him to walk from his home to his host's home. He came before Rav Huna to ask his opinion. Rav Huna said to him: If you yourself hung the meat, go take it, but if your hosts hung it for you, you may not take it.
From this story, the Gemara wants to try to prove a number of issues regarding the rules of tehum and eiruv on Yom Tov. Its conclusion, however, is that Rav Huna's ruling did not involve rules of tehum and eiruv and was unique to Rav Hana bar Hanilai who was such a scholar that he regularly focused on his Torah study and paid little attention to mundane goings on around him. Rav Huna ruled that if he had placed the meat on the door himself, he probably had paid attention to it, so it was fine, but if his hosts had put it there, he did not pay sufficient attention to it, and it could not be used. Rashi explains that the concern here was for basar she-nitalem min ha-ayin – meat that was not under constant watch. This rule stems from a concern lest the meat be switched with non-kosher meat so the Sages ruled that when such a switch can occur, meat needs to be under constant supervision or else have a symbol attached to it so that it can be recognized as kosher meat. The Me'iri suggests that had he placed the meat on the door he could be certain that it was in the place and position that he had put it, which would have solved the problem. In any case, the Gemara concludes that no rules about tehum and eiruv can be derived from this story, which was concerned with an entirely different matter.
Beitza 39a-b: How Salt and Water Differ
09/10/2021 - 3rd of Cheshvan, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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As we learned on yesterday's daf , people's possessions cannot be taken beyond 2,000 cubits of the city limits (called tehum Shabbat) on Shabbat and Yom Tov, just as the person himself is limited by the tehum. Thus, if a woman lends water and salt to her friend to bake bread on Yom Tov, the final product will be limited in that it can only be taken as far as the borrower and the lender could go themselves. In the Mishna (37a) Rabbi Yehuda argues that this rule does not apply to water, since it becomes part of the baked product and is no longer considered as having independent significance. Therefore we will not restrict its movement by the limits of the original owner; the borrower who baked the bread can take it wherever she is allowed to go. The Gemara on our daf asks why Rabbi Yehuda differentiates between water, which loses its independent significance when baked into bread, and salt which apparently retains its status. Furthermore, a baraita is introduced in which Rabbi Yehuda clearly states that both water and salt become batel – negligible – when baked or cooked and are now part of food. [caption id="attachment_8818" align="alignright" width="300"]salt cave on Mount Sodom salt cave on Mount Sodom[/caption] To explain the different statements of Rabbi Yehuda, the Gemara explains that there are different types of salt – melah sedomit and melah isterokanit. Melah sedomit is thick and retains its shape, so it can be seen even when baked or cooked. Melah isterokanit is softer and combines with the food to the extent that it can no longer be identified. Thus melah sedomit retains its independent status, while melah isterokanit is considered batel in the food. [caption id="attachment_8819" align="alignleft" width="300"]rock salt at the peak of Mount Sodom rock salt at the peak of Mount Sodom[/caption] Although many define melah sedomit as sea salt, the Ge'onim identified it as salt that is mined on Mount Sodom itself, and not salt that is taken from the Dead Sea. Such stone salt does not dissolve easily and is readily seen even in cooked products. Melah isterokanit (which was most likely given that name because of the place where it was produced) was made by means of channeling sea water into canals and extracting the salt by means of evaporation. In the time of the Mishna melah isterokanit was much softer and dissolved more readily that the stone salt.
Beitza 38a-b: The Limits of Traveling
08/10/2021 - 2nd of Cheshvan, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Mishna (37a) teaches that just as a person cannot walk more than 2,000 cubits outside of the city limits (called tehum Shabbat) on Shabbat and Yom Tov, his or her possessions are limited, as well. In Massekhet Eiruvin we learned that by means of an eiruv tehumim – by placing a meal at the edge of the city limits – a person can establish his Shabbat in that place, thus shifting the area that he is allowed to travel to 2,000 cubits around that space. Thus, if a person were to lend something to his friend on Yom Tov, it can only be taken as far as its owner is allowed to walk, even if the borrower has made an eiruv that permits him to travel further than that. One example presented by the Mishna is a woman who lends water and salt to her friend to bake bread on Yom Tov. The final product will be limited to the extent that it can only be taken to places that both the borrower and the lender themselves could go. The Gemara on our daf describes a discussion among the amora'im about this rule. Three Israeli amora'im were discussing this matter (either Rabbi Yohanan, Rabbi Hanina bar Pappi and Rabbi Zeira or else Rabbi Abbahu, Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi and Rabbi Yitzhak Nappaha) and queried why this should be true; shouldn't the water and salt be considered batel – negligible – in the context of the final baked product!?
Rabbi Abba said to them: If one's single kav of wheat became mingled with ten kav of another's wheat, shall the latter eat all eleven kav and rejoice? One does not allow his property to become nullified into someone else's property. The same applies to water and salt in dough. The Sages laughed at him. He said to them: Did I take your cloaks from you that you are putting me to shame? They again laughed at him.
This interaction is particularly interesting because the Gemara begins the story with a description of the prayer recited by Rabbi Abba upon embarking on his trip from Babylonia to Israel, in which he expressed his hope that his thoughts and ideas would be accepted by the scholars of Israel. The Hatam Sofer explains that the Sages who lived in Israel recognized their own knowledge of Torah, and often looked down on the Torah that was studied and taught in Babylon, which brought a visiting scholar to be concerned lest his ideas would not be taken seriously.
Beitza 37a-b: Making a Pledge on Shabbat and Yom Tov
07/10/2021 - 1st of Cheshvan, 5782
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Is one permitted to respond to synagogue appeals on Shabbat and Yom Tov? In the Mishna on yesterday's daf  we learned that performing a mitzva like putting aside tithes or consecrating an object to the Temple would be forbidden on Shabbat and Yom Tov. On today's daf, the Gemara explains that the reason the Sages did not permit people to donate to the Temple on Shabbat and Yom Tov is because such contributions appear very similar to business transactions. One of the practical questions that this raises is how can synagogues make appeals – even for good causes – and accept pledges on Shabbat or on Yom Tov? Rav Nissim Gaon distinguishes between the case of donations to the Temple and the case of pledging money to charity or other causes. When donating to the Temple, the Talmud has a unique rule that a simple statement of a pledge to the Temple is already an act of transfer of ownership, as opposed to virtually all other cases, where a statement is merely an indication of intent that must be followed up with a formal act of transfer. Thus, someone who responds to an appeal with a pledge is not transferring the money on Yom Tov (which would be forbidden), but simply making a statement that he intends to give money to charity after the holiday (which is permitted). This approach helps solve a problem that many of the commentaries raise regarding our Mishna. The general principle followed by the Sages is ein gozrin gezera le-gezera – that we do not create a Rabbinic ordinance to protect against the desecration of another Rabbinic ordinance. Since business transactions are prohibited because we are afraid that it may encourage people to write – an act forbidden on Shabbat or Yom Tov – how can we prevent people from donating to the Temple because of the similarity to business transactions? Following the logic of Rav Nissim Gaon, the Ra"ah explains that the case of donating to the Temple is not merely forbidden because of a Rabbinic decree that it appears to be similar to a business transaction. Rather, simply announcing that something is consecrated to the Temple is, itself, a business transaction, since transfer of ownership takes place immediately.
Beitza 36a-b: Forbidden Activities
06/10/2021 - 30th of Tishrei, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Mishna on today's daf lists a series of different types of activities, all of which are forbidden by the Sages on Yom Tov as well as on Shabbat. The categories are:
  • Shevut – A Rabbinic ordinance, like climbing a tree or riding an animal
  • Reshut – Something that is not always a mitzva, although it is certainly a good deed, like getting married or trying a court case
  • Mitzva – Actually fulfilling a commandment, like putting aside tithes or consecrating an object to the Temple
All of these activities are forbidden by Rabbinic ordinance lest they lead to forbidden activities or because they appear very similar to weekday activities. The commentaries discuss why there is a need to create divisions between different types of Rabbinic prohibitions, given that the bottom line is that they are all forbidden on both Shabbat and Yom Tov. One approach is taken by Rabbeinu Tam who argues that there are real differences between the cases, and that the Mishna is only discussing cases where the activity is not truly obligatory. If, however, a mitzva will really be fulfilled by this action, then the Sages would permit the mitzva to be done on Yom Tov. Some suggest that even according to Rashi we will distinguish between the different categories in a case where the act is performed bein ha-shemashot – in the moment when it is still questionable whether the holiday has begun or not. At that moment we will be lenient and allow those activities that are mitzvot to be done. The Hatam Sofer argues that the Mishna must be understood to be saying that these activities are forbidden if they are shevut or reshut from the perspective of the person doing them. If, however, they are being done as a mitzva, the rule of the Mishna may not apply.
Beitza 35a-b: Lowering Fruit Off the Roof
05/10/2021 - 29th of Tishrei, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The last chapter of Massekhet Beitza, perek  mashilin, begins on today's daf. This concluding chapter focuses mainly on two topics:
  1. Actions that are not true creative activities that would be forbidden on Yom Tov, but are, nevertheless, issues that involve a lack of sensitivity to the holiness of the day
  2. Questions regarding tehumim (boundaries) – that is travel outside the city boundaries, which is ordinarily limited to a 2,000 cubit perimeter around the city.
The first Mishna describes a situation that was commonplace in the time of the Talmud, although it is unusual today. In those days, it was customary practice for a person to put fruits on his roof to dry. Such fruits were considered to be muktze – that is to say, they were set aside as fruit that was not to be eaten now, as it was being processed to be saved for future use. Obviously, if rains came and those fruits were on the roof, they would be ruined. In such a circumstance, the Mishna permits the fruits to be lowered in to the house through a skylight on Yom Tov. In his commentary to the Mishna, the Rambam explains that the loss of money brings the Rabbis to permit what would ordinarily be considered a "weekday activity" but only in this specific way, where the skylight goes directly to the ground floor and throwing the fruit down does not involve excessive labor. [caption id="attachment_8805" align="alignleft" width="300"]Skylight in an ancient Roman building Skylight in an ancient Roman building[/caption] To understand the situation described in the Mishna, it is important to recognize what a contemporary Roman house looked like. Such houses, which apparently were built in Israel, had an internal courtyard that included a skylight where fires were built below in an oven or fireplace. The roof had flat areas where fruits were commonly laid out to dry. It would have been fairly easy to toss the fruits down into the house by way of that skylight.
Beitza 34a-b: When Food Prep is Hard Work
04/10/2021 - 28th of Tishrei, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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In preparing food to eat on Yom Tov, we must be sensitive to the fact that some foods involve so much hard work which can be done prior to the holiday that it is recommended they not be bothered with on Yom Tov or done only in an unusual manner. An example of this is cutting off excess leaves from vegetables, which cannot be done with the scissors that are normally used for this purpose. Even so, foods whose preparation is complicated can be cooked and eaten on Yom Tov. Kundas (artichokes) and akaviyot (cardoon) are examples of such foods. The kundas is identified as Cynara scolymus - the Globe artichoke - a perennial, thistle-like plant that grows to a height of one meter. Akaviyot are identified as Cynara cardunculus - cardoon - which is a member of the thistle family and related to the Globe artichoke. [caption id="attachment_8801" align="alignleft" width="247"]Ancient scissors Ancient scissors[/caption] Whole Globe artichokes are prepared for cooking by removing all but approximately 5-10 mm of the stem and (optionally) cutting away about a quarter of each scale with scissors, which removes the thorns that can interfere with the handling of the leaves while eating. And while the flower buds of the cardoon can be eaten much like the artichoke, the stems are generally made edible by blanching, when they are tied together and stored for some time. Another type of food that cannot be eaten without effort is nuts. The Gemara quotes a baraita which permits wrapping nuts in cloth and cracking them, even if the cloth will tear. The Ran presents this as a case where several nuts are placed in a covering and broken all at once with a hammer. There is no concern that the cloth will tear, either because there is no intention to tear the cloth, or, as Rashi suggests, this is at worst a case of mekalkel - a destructive activity - which is not forbidden on Shabbat and Yom Tov.
Beitza 33a-b: Creating a Fire on Yom Tov
03/10/2021 - 27th of Tishrei, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The last several pages of Gemara have been dealing with preparing fuels used for burning on Yom Tov. As we have noted in our studies, burning fuel is permitted, as it is a prerequisite for cooking, which is permitted on Yom Tov. Nevertheless, according to the Mishna on our daf , we are only allowed to add fuel to an existing fire or flame, but not to light a new fire. The Mishna teaches that a fire cannot be "brought out" (that is to say, lit) from wood, stones, dirt, tiles or water. Starting a fire with wood, stones and tiles would all be based on the same basic principles - the creation of heat or sparks by means of friction in the case of wood, or banging stones or tiles against one another (as is still done today in the case of modern cigarette lighters, for example). Creating fire out of water means - as Rashi explains - using a water-filled glass instrument that works as a magnifying glass to create great heat by concentrating the sun's rays on a particular spot. There are a variety of explanations regarding how one can start a fire out of dirt. They include the possibility of pouring water on natural lime deposits in order to create a chemical reaction that produces heat, and using the heat created by decomposing organic matter.
One may not produce new fire on a Festival in any manner. The Gemara asks: What is the reason for this? The Gemara explains: Because he creates [molid] something new on a Festival. This is similar to an act of creation, and it is therefore prohibited.
The rishonim disagree as to the level of severity of such an activity. The R"iaz, for example, says that it is not truly an act of creation, but since something new is now here, it is forbidden by the Sages. The Rambam's approach is to say that this is forbidden only because it could have been done before Yom Tov began.
Beitza 32a-b: Creating a Ner on Yom Tov
02/10/2021 - 26th of Tishrei, 5782
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[caption id="attachment_8791" align="alignleft" width="300"]di artisnal roman oil lamp Artisnal Roman oil lamp[/caption] Although today we call a wax candle a ner, during the times of the Mishna the word ner referred to a clay lamp that held oil and had a spout in which a wick was placed and could be lit. While making a quality clay ner might involve significant work and effort, a simple ner could be made by taking a ball of clay, hollowing out the inside, where the oil was to be poured, and making an indentation in one of the sides that could be used for the wick. [caption id="attachment_8793" align="alignright" width="300"]Simply structured oil lamp Simply structured oil lamp[/caption] The Mishna on our daf teaches that if someone needs a ner for Yom Tov, he cannot be “pohet the ner,” since that would involve creating a utensil on Yom Tov, which is a forbidden activity. What exactly is involved in being pohet the ner is the subject of disagreement among the rishonim.
  • Rashi explains simply that it means to create an indentation in the side of the clay ball, which would allow a wick to be placed in the oil.
  • According to Tosafot, when the potter prepared the ner, he would open a hole for the wick and fill the hole with straw or other materials to keep it open. Removing the straw is considered completing the lamp, which is forbidden.
  • The Rambam explains that the lamps were made in pairs, and after they were fired in an oven, they needed to be separated in order to be considered completed. Separating the lamps on Yom Tov is forbidden.
  • According to the Ran, each lamp had a matching cover that was made to fit perfectly. Opening the cover of the lamp was considered the completion of the lamp.
As an example of a utensil that cannot be made on Yom Tov, the Gemara presents the case of the ilpasin haraniyyot, or stew pots. These pots are described by the Talmud Yerushalmi as being made originally as one piece of clay. The potter would then cut off the top in order to make a cover, which was returned to the top of the pot in a loose manner. By doing so, when the pot - together with its cover - was placed in the oven to harden, both pieces would expand at the same rate. Thus, when removed, the cover would fit the pot perfectly. Upon purchasing the pot, the buyer would remove the cover with a small knock.
Beitza 31a-b: Chopping Wood on Yom Tov
01/10/2021 - 25th of Tishrei, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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Since we are allowed to cook on Yom Tov, we are also permitted to add fuel to burning fires. Even so, wood or other fuel that is to be used should be prepared for that purpose before Yom Tov begins; otherwise it is considered muktze - set aside for a purpose other than to be burned. What wood is considered prepared for use as fuel on Yom Tov is the topic of discussion of the Mishnayot on today's daf. One of the Mishnayot discusses whether wood can be chopped for use as fuel, even if the wood was prepared for burning before Yom Tov began. As we learned on yesterday's daf, the crucial question here is whether it appears to be a weekday activity; as such, the suggestion of the Mishna is to chop the wood in an out-of-the-ordinary manner. Thus, using a kardom (spade), a megerah (saw), or a magal (sickle) is forbidden, while a kopitz (cleaver - a knife for cutting bones) would be permitted. [su_row][su_column size="1/3"] [caption id="attachment_8776" align="alignnone" width="300"]di ax kardom Ax (kardom) the Roman dolabra[/caption] [/su_column] [su_column size="1/3"] [caption id="attachment_8777" align="alignnone" width="300"]di saw megerah Saw (megerah) Roman saw blades[/caption] [/su_column] [su_column size="1/3"] [caption id="attachment_8778" align="alignnone" width="300"]di sickle magal Teeth of a sickle (magal)[/caption] [/su_column][/su_row] It is interesting to note that the act of chopping wood is not, in itself, considered a forbidden act on Yom Tov. Many of the rishonim (Rashi, the Ri"d, and the Rashba, among others) argue that there is nothing intrinsically forbidden in making a large piece of wood into smaller pieces (unless it were turned into sawdust, in which case it would be forbidden because of the prohibition against grinding). According to this position, the reason some types of implements cannot be used is because they are clearly professional tools, and it appears that the person using them is participating in forbidden weekday activities. The Ra'avad explains that chopping the wood would generally be considered a forbidden activity, but it is permitted on Yom Tov as an essential part of food preparation. We limit the types of tools that can be used only because these activities should really be done prior to the onset of the holiday. Since proper preparations had not been done, the Sages insisted that they can only be done on Yom Tov in an unusual fashion.
Beitza 30a-b: To Show That It's Not Everyday Business
30/09/2021 - 24th of Tishrei, 5782
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Even those activities that are permitted on Yom Tov were limited by the Talmudic Sages in a variety of ways to ensure that people would respect the holiness of the day, lest it turn into another day of mundane activities. The passage in Sefer Yeshayahu (58:13) emphasizes the need to limit activities that are overly strenuous or take place in public settings and appear to be in conflict with the spirit of the day, even if they are permitted according to the letter of the law. The fourth perek of Massekhet Beitza - perek ha-Mevi - deals with these issues. The opening Mishna (29b) rules that a person who needs to transport kadei yayin - jugs of wine - should not carry them in a basket (a sal or a kupa); rather, they should be carried on one’s shoulder. Similarly, someone who needs to move a basket of straw on Yom Tov should not sling it onto his back, but should carry it in his hand. The general principle here is that transporting merchandise, even if it is needed for the holiday, cannot be done in the ordinary manner; rather, it should be carried in an out-of-the-ordinary manner to indicate that this is not everyday business, but is necessary for Yom Tov. di agra carrying poleBased on this ruling, in Mahoza, where Rava was the community leader, the following regulations were instituted:
  • People who ordinarily carry a heavy burden on their own (b'duhaka) should use a simpler carrying pole (ragla).
  • One who ordinarily carries a burden on his shoulders together with a second person should switch to a pole that is carried by hand (akhpa)
  • If the hand pole is the normal way of carrying, then the object being carried should be covered with a sudara (scarf).
The Me'iri explains that the sudara, which acts to cover up what is being carried, makes the statement that the mover does not want to publicize the fact that he needs to transport this vessel on Yom Tov.
Beitza 29a-b: Weights and Measures on Yom Tov
29/09/2021 - 23rd of Tishrei, 5782
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Because we are able to prepare food on Yom Tov, it is possible for people to find themselves in a situation in which they discover that essential ingredients for the meal are missing. Obviously they can go to their neighbors, borrow raw ingredients, and return them after Yom Tov is over. The last few Mishnayot in our perek relate to such transactions. The last Mishna in the perek teaches that a person can go to his local storekeeper and ask for a specific number of nuts or eggs - that he intends to pay for after the close of the holiday - even though previous Mishnayot limit the permissibility of having him weigh meat (28a, b) or measure out liquids (29a). The Tosafot Ri"d explain the difference as being whether the agreement appears to be a business transaction or simply a neighborly agreement. Weights and measures - especially when connected with a specific value (like the case in the Mishna on 28b: "weigh for me a dinar's worth of meat") - are clearly business-related and are forbidden on Yom Tov since they are "weekday activities." Counting out a certain amount of eggs or fruit is an everyday household activity, which does not carry with it the stigma of commerce, and would thus be permitted. It is interesting to note that at least some of these discussions are not specific to Yom Tov. The P'nei Yehoshua points out that the discussion, found in the Mishna on our daf of whether a person can say "fill up this jug for me" if it is a measuring utensil, may be an appropriate question for Shabbat as well as for Yom Tov, since it is not specifically related to an issue of food preparation. As such, he asks, why is this Mishna placed in Massekhet Beitza and not in Massekhet Shabbat? Several answers are suggested in response to this question. The Bigdei Yom Tov, for example, argues that, given the leniencies permitted with regard to food preparation on Yom Tov, we could logically conclude that we should allow for these activities, as well. It is therefore essential for the Mishna to teach that weighing and measuring appear so much like forbidden business activities that we cannot permit them on Yom Tov, even for essential food preparation.
Beitza 28a-b: Sharpening the Knife
28/09/2021 - 22nd of Tishrei, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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Since we are allowed to prepare food on Yom Tov, in the event that fresh meat is needed, slaughtering an animal would be permitted. (It is worthwhile to note that the only way meat could be kept fresh during Talmudic times - prior to the invention of refrigeration - was by keeping the animal alive until it was to be cooked.)  Sheḥiṭa must be done with a specially prepared knife that is perfectly smooth with no chinks or nicks. The Mishna on our daf forbids sharpening a knife on Yom Tov, but the Gemara permits it under certain circumstances. Rav Yosef rules that a knife which became dull can be sharpened, as long as it still can cut meat, even if it can only do so with some difficulty. Rashi explains that if it can no longer cut at all, sharpening it would involve serious labor that should not be done on the holiday. The Ba'al ha-Ma'or argues that such a knife no longer serves its purpose, and is therefore no longer considered a utensil. Sharpening it would create a new utensil on Yom Tov, which is certainly forbidden. Another question that is raised is whether the shohet can present his knife to the community rabbi on Yom Tov. The Gemara records a disagreement in this case between Rav Mari brei d'Rav Bizna, who permits it, and the Rabbanan, who forbid it. The obligation for the shohet who slaughters animals for the community to show his knife to the local scholar is a Rabbinic ordinance instituted both to ensure that kashrut is scrupulously kept and to honor the community rabbi. This tradition came to an end many years ago. Although during Talmudic times any individual could perform Sheḥiṭa, later on only professionals who studied the laws carefully were allowed to do it and were certified by the community Rabbis as experts who no longer needed further approval. Nevertheless, in some communities - particularly Hassidic communities - this practice is still followed to this day. Regarding the discussion in our Gemara, the R"if explains that we may forbid the scholar to check knives on Yom Tov because we fear that the knife will be carried outside the 2000-cubit city limit. According to the Re'ah, the problem is that the scholar checking the knife plays the role of a judge, and courts are not allowed to operate on Yom Tov. The Rambam's explanation is that if the knife is found to have a nick, the shohet may come to sharpen it, which is, as we learned in the Mishna, forbidden.
Beitza 27a-b: Examining First Borns on Yom Tov
27/09/2021 - 21st of Tishrei, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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As we learned on yesterday's daf, there is a disagreement between Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Shimon regarding the question of checking the status of a behor – a first-born animal – on Yom Tov. The Gemara on our daf, in an attempt to clarify which of the two positions is accepted as the halakha, relates a number of stories in which this issue is brought to the fore.
The Gemara relates that Ami of Vardina was the examiner of firstborns in the household of the Nasi. On Festivals he would not examine firstborn blemishes.
Ami of Vardina is mentioned a number of times in the Talmud. According to Rashi, he is one and the same as "Ami Shefir Na'eh" (Ami, the handsome one). The position that he held was well-respected, since the person who had that role needed to have a deep understanding of animal husbandry and physiology, as well as a broad knowledge of halakha.
They came and told Rabbi Ami about this. He said to them: He does well not to examine them. The Gemara raises an objection: Is that so? But didn't Rabbi Ami himself examine firstborns for blemishes on a Festival? The Gemara answers: When Rabbi Ami would examine the blemishes of firstborns, it was on the day before the Festival that he would examine them, to see whether the blemishes were permanent or temporary. And on the Festival itself he would ask only how the incident occurred, meaning that he would investigate the cause of the blemish.
The "further examinations" Rabbi Ami performed involved questioning the person who asked for the animal to be checked – and perhaps even taking testimony from others. Current practice is that when a behor is born in a flock of animals owned by a Jewish person, the animal is tended by its owner for the first three months, at which time it is transferred to the kohen. Since today there is no possibility of bringing the behor as a sacrifice, such an animal only has value to the kohen once a mum has been found in it. This reality has led to a situation that kohanim are suspected of placing the animal in a situation where it will easily develop a mum, so the expert who examines the animal must also play the role of prosecutor in an attempt to establish whether the mum was an accidental one or was done purposely. The Shulhan Arukh (Orah Hayyim 498:9) accepts the conclusion suggested by these stories, and rules like Rabbi Shimon that a behor should not be inspected on Yom Tov to see whether it has developed mumim.
Beitza 26a-b: Eating a Behor on Yom Yov
26/09/2021 - 20th of Tishrei, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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A first-born animal – a behor – is considered to be holy to the Temple (see Sh'mot 13:12). In the event that the animal develops a permanent blemish – a mum – then it is no longer kodesh and it can be eaten normally by kohanim. Since under normal circumstances a behor cannot be eaten, it is not considered an animal that is ready for use on Yom Tov. Nevertheless, the Mishna (25b) teaches that according to Rabbi Yehuda, in the event that a behor falls into a cistern, an expert can be lowered into the cistern to check whether the animal has developed a mum. If, in fact, such a mum is present, then the animal can be slaughtered and eaten by kohanim on Yom Tov. Rabbi Shimon disagrees. He believes that unless the mum was recognized before Yom Tov began, the animal cannot be used for food on Yom Tov. Thus there would be no point in having an expert check the animal for a mum on Yom Tov itself so it would be forbidden to do so. Several different explanations are suggested to explain the argument between Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Shimon. Rashi makes two suggestions:
  1. Ruling that the animal can be eaten is tikkun – it is "fixing" something on Yom Tov – which is forbidden.
  2. Ruling that the animal can be eaten is considered a formal court ruling. Jewish courts neither sit nor rule on cases on Shabbat or Yom Tov.
Rabbi Yehuda would reject both of those assumptions. Tosafot offer another approach. According to Tosafot the main issue in this case is muktze. Since the behor was perfectly healthy at the moment that the holiday began, it was not viewed as edible at that point. Therefore it cannot be considered prepared for use on Yom Tov, even if it develops a mum in the course of the day.
Beitza 25a-b: Proper Etiquette
25/09/2021 - 19th of Tishrei, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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Rami bar Abba teaches that just as the Torah commands that every animal sacrifice be flayed (skinned) and cut up (see, for example, Vayikra 1:6), similarly a butcher should first skin and cut up the animal before allowing anyone to eat from it. This falls into the category of derekh eretz – appropriate behavior- that is encouraged by the Sages, even though there are no issues of halakha forbidding it. The teaching of etiquette is not limited to Rami bar Abba. The Gemara quotes baraitot that recommend eating and drinking in a slow deliberate manner, indicating – as Rashi and the Me'iri point out – that even the early tanna'im felt that these matters needed to be emphasized. One baraita teaches that someone who eats an onion or garlic should not eat it from its roots, rather he should eat it from its leaves; eating it beginning with the roots is the sign of a glutton. The Me'iri explains that eating it "from its leaves" means that a person is obligated to peel off the outer leaves before eating, which slows down the process. Similarly, a person should not gulp down his drink all at once, nor should he drink it in many small sips that make him appear overly sensitive. di sea squillIn another teaching, Rami bar Abba praises the hatzuva as a plant that defends against evil people. The hatzuva is identified as the sea squill – urginea maritima – a plant from the lily family whose roots project deep into the ground. It was customary to plant sea squill on the edges of fields as boundary markers because the roots grow straight down without spreading out. This protected the field owner against those who would overstep and infringe on their property.
Beitza 24a-b: Eating a Captured Animal on Yom Tov
24/09/2021 - 18th of Tishrei, 5782
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we have learned, food preparation on Yom Tov is permitted based on the passage in Sh'mot (12:16). Nevertheless, this permits only activities that are directly related to cooking and preparing the food. Capturing an animal, for example, is too far removed from the food preparation to be permitted on Yom Tov. The third perek of Massekhet Beitza, which began on the last daf (23b), focuses on the question of how we define tzayid – hunting. Specifically the Sages try to define under what circumstances an animal is considered to be in one's possession to the extent that it is ready to be prepared for food.
Mishna: If traps for animals, birds and fish were set on the eve of a Festival, one may not take anything from them on the Festival, unless he knows that the animals found in the traps had already been caught on the eve of the Festival.
di nets and traps colorWhile our Gemara bases its analysis of whether the animal was captured before or after the beginning of Yom Tov on the condition of the trap (i.e. when did the hunter discover that it had become misshapen by the animal trapped inside), the Talmud Yerushalmi distinguishes between places where there are many animals and places where there are relatively few. di fish trap colorIn an area where there are many animals, the hunter can rely on the assumption that the animal became trapped in a relatively short time after the trap was put down.
Beitza 23a-b: Eating Roasted Meat at the Seder
23/09/2021 - 17th of Tishrei, 5782
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The Mishna (22b) teaches that Rabban Gamliel rules leniently on three issues concerning Yom Tov. He permitted the floors to be swept (he was not concerned that sweeping the floor would fill in holes), he allowed incense to be burned and he encouraged people to eat a roasted goat on the night of the Passover seder. The Gemara on our daf  discusses the case of the Passover seder, which was a point of disagreement because the other Sages felt that it looked too much like the actual Pesaḥ sacrifice. The question at hand was: following the destruction of the Temple, what is the best course of action? Should we eat meat at the seder roasted in commemoration of the Passover sacrifice that had to be roasted (see Sh'mot 12:8-9) or would doing so present a problem because it would appear that the sacrifice was being eaten outside the precincts of Jerusalem?
It is taught in a baraita in this regard that Rabbi Yosei says: Theodosius [Todos] of Rome, leader of the Jewish community there, instituted the custom for the Roman Jews to eat whole kids on the night of Passover, in commemoration of the practice followed in the Temple. The Sages sent a message to him: Were you not Theodosius, an important person, we would have decreed ostracism upon you , as you are feeding the Jewish people consecrated food, which may be eaten only in and around the Temple itself, outside the Temple.
The Gemara in Pesahim (53a) asks whether the reluctance to place Todos under ban stemmed from the fact that he was a talmid hakham, or, perhaps, because he was a powerful figure who could not be punished. The Hatam Sofer points out that this is not merely a theoretical question, but a practical one from which we can deduce that a talmid hakham should not be punished for making an error, but should simply be warned about it. In response, the Gemara in Pesahim offers two stories about him. The first story quotes Todos as teaching an aggadic homily, in which he explained the actions of Hananiah, Misha'el and Azariah who allowed themselves to be thrown into a fiery furnace (see Daniel chapter 3 ) by comparing their situation to that of the frogs of the second of the ten plagues in Egypt who willingly jumped into burning ovens (see Sh'mot 7:28). According to this story, since we have records of Todos teaching Torah publicly, apparently he was a scholar. Rabbi Yosei bar Avin relates the second story, that Todos was someone who supported Torah scholars by lending money or merchandise to them, thus allowing them to support themselves. It should be noted that the Rambam lists eight levels of charity (see Rambam Hilkhot Matnot Aniyim 10:7) ranging from giving a hand-out to a poor person to offering assistance in a secretive way. The highest level enumerated is someone who enters into a partnership with a poor person, allowing him to become self-sufficient, which, apparently, was Todos' relationship with the Torah scholars in his community.
Beitza 22a-b: Medical Treatment of the Eyes on Yom Tov
22/09/2021 - 16th of Tishrei, 5782
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The Gemara on our daf discusses whether eye diseases can be treated on Yom Tov. As the Gemara points out, in situations of potentially life-threatening danger it is obvious that any treatment can be done; the issue at hand is whether treatments to improve vision or minor ailments can be used. Medical treatment of the eyes has a long history, since such conditions were common in the Middle East due to an abundance of sand and insects that carried diseases. Archaeologists have found instruments used in surgical operations on the eye from the Talmudic period. The discussion in our Gemara, however, deals with the application of salves or creams that were inserted into the eye by means of a mik'hol – a tiny spoon that was also used for applying cosmetics. The Gemara leaves this question as a disagreement between Rabbi Yehuda and the Rabbanan (rabbis). Ameimar, however, permitted the application of salves on the eye on Yom Tov if it was done by a non-Jew. In response to Rav Ashi's objection that a non-Jew could only be employed to perform such an activity if the Jew does not assist him – and in the case of inserting a cream into the eye, the patient must be playing an assisting role – Ameimar argues that mesayei'ah ein bo mamash – that merely assisting is not considered an act of significance. It is difficult to claim that mesayei'ah ein bo mamash since there are many instances in the Talmud that even the person assisting in a given case is considered to have played a significant role. Rabbi Akiva Eiger suggests that a distinction must be made between cases where the mesayei'ah participates in the activity (where such participation would be forbidden) and where he merely allows the activity to take place, like in our case where opening and closing the eye allows the medicine to be applied.
Beitza 21a-b: Cooking for Non-Jews on Yom Tov
21/09/2021 - 15th of Tishrei, 5782
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Rav Huna was asked to rule on the following question: when the government requires villagers to bake for soldiers who are stationed in the area, are they permitted to do so on Yom Tov? Rav Huna ruled that it would be permitted to bake for the soldiers if the bakers were permitted to give bread to the Jewish children who were around, as well. In such a case, every loaf of bread could be seen as potentially being baked for the children. If the soldiers were careful that none of the bread be given away, and insisted that it all be delivered to the soldiers, then it would be forbidden to bake for them.
The Gemara challenges Rav Huna's lenient ruling: But isn't it taught in a baraita: There was an incident involving Shimon the Timnite, who did not come on the night of the Festival to the study hall. In the morning, Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava found him and said to him: Why did you not come last night to the study hall? He said to him: A military unit on a search mission [balleshet] came to our city and wanted to pillage the entire city. We slaughtered a calf in order to placate them, and we fed them with it and had them depart in peace.
Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava objected to this story, pointing out that the passage permitting cooking on Yom Tov (Sh'mot 12:16) only allows it lahem – for you – not for non-Jews. As the Gemara explains, in this case the animal that was prepared for the balleshet was not kosher, so it could not have been eaten by Jews and the entire preparation was for non-Jews only. The term balleshet apparently refers to an army unit that was sent to search for valuables (the root b-l-sh means to search). Usually these units were employed in enforcing payment of taxes, which made it essential for the local communities to stay on good terms with them, since their broad mandate often allowed them to stray well beyond their official tasks into violence and looting.
Beitza 20a-b: Sacrifices on Yom Tov II
20/09/2021 - 14th of Tishrei, 5782
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We learned in the Mishna (19a) that Beit Shammai restricted the kinds of sacrifices that could be brought on Yom Tov to those that are obligatory on those days, while Beit Hillel permit all types of sacrifices to be brought. Hillel and Shammai lived at the end of the Second Temple period, so their disagreement is not one that involves only theoretical principles, but practical ones, as well.
The Sages taught in a baraita: There was an incident involving Hillel the Elder, who brought his burnt-offering to the Temple courtyard in order to place his hands on the animal's head on a Festival. The students of Shammai the Elder gathered around him and said to him: What is the nature of this animal that you are bringing? Hillel, being humble and meek, did not want to quarrel with them in the Temple and therefore concealed the truth from them for the sake of peace. He said to them: It is a female, and I have brought it as a peace-offering, as burnt-offerings are always male. He swung its tail for them so that they would not be able to properly discern whether the animal was male or female, and they departed.
A korban olah (burnt-offering) is totally burned on the altar, and none of it is eaten - neither by the kohanim nor by the person who brings it. A korban shelamim (peace-offering) is a sacrifice where part is offered on the altar, but there are also parts that are eaten by the kohanim and by the owner. According to Shammai, a korban olah cannot be brought on Yom Tov. A korban shelamim, however, can be brought, since parts of it will be eaten by the kohanim and by the owner, making it not only a sacrifice, but also food preparation, which is permitted on Yom Tov. Beit Hillel permit both olot and shelamim to be brought since they are connected to the holiday. Hillel's conciliatory stand taken in our baraita led to a situation where the students of Shammai were ready to claim victory and have the final ruling on this matter follow Shammai's teaching. At that moment, Bava ben Buta, one of Shammai's students who recognized that Hillel's position was the accepted one, stepped forward and arranged for a large number of choice cattle to be brought to the Temple. He called upon the onlookers to perform semikha on the animals and bring them as sacrifices, which was a public admission that Hillel's position was to be accepted. From that time on there was no longer any debate on this matter. The Talmud Yerushalmi relates the story in a slightly different manner, reporting that Hillel's modesty almost led to the acceptance of Shammai's position. At that moment the Temple emptied of korbanot, since no one was willing to come to sacrifice. This led Bava ben Buta to curse the people who brought on this situation, saying "the houses of these people should be made desolate, just as they made desolate the house of our Lord." He then ordered 3,000 cattle brought and announced that people should resume bringing sacrifices, so that the mikdash should not stand empty on Yom Tov.
Beitza 19a-b: Sacrifices on Yom Tov I
19/09/2021 - 13th of Tishrei, 5782
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In our discussions of food preparation on Yom Tov, we have learned that even though several of the 39 activities forbidden on Shabbat are basic to food preparation, they are permitted on Yom Tov based on the passage in Sh'mot 12:16. How about sacrifices brought in the Temple? Obviously, korbanot that are part of the commandments of the day must be brought, but what about other sacrifices? During Temple times, a person who fulfilled the mitzva of aliya la-regel - pilgrimage to the Temple on the holidays of Pesah, Shavu'ot and Sukkot - would bring with him the korbanot that he was obligated to sacrifice. This included sacrifices unique to the particular holiday, as well as those that he had promised to bring over the course of the previous months. The hagiga (festival offering) was a korban shelamim that was brought by every individual at some point during the holiday (not necessarily on the day of Yom Tov itself). As with any korban shelamim, part of it was sacrificed on the altar, while much of it was eaten by the kohanim and the owner of the korban. Another sacrifice that was brought was the olat re'iyah, which a person was obligated to bring every time he came to the mikdash. This korban also could be brought throughout the holiday, but like any korban olah, it was burned on the mizbe'ah in its entirety, with no part of it eaten by anyone. In the Mishna on our daf, Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel disagree about whether various sacrifices can be brought on Yom Tov. According to Beit Shammai, a korban olah, which is totally burned up, cannot be brought. A korban shelmaim, however, can be brought, since parts of it will be eaten by the kohanim and by the owner, making it not only a sacrifice, but also food preparation, which is permitted on Yom Tov. Nevertheless, they forbid performing semikha on the animal. Beit Hillel permit both olot and shelamim to be brought since they are connected to the holiday, even through there is no obligation to bring them on the actual Yom Tov. They also permit semikha on both. The mitzva of semikha appears in connection with many korbanot (see, for example Vayikra 1:4). It involves having the owner of the sacrifice place both of his hands on the animal's head between the horns and lean against it with all of his strength. For sacrifices where confession (viduy) was said, semikha was the time to do it. Since semikha was done with force, it was considered by Beit Shammai to be making use of the animal - similar to riding an animal - which is forbidden by the Sages on Shabbat and Yom Tov. Rashi's explanation of Beit Shammai's opinion is that they do not reject the mitzva of semikha on Yom Tov; rather, they require the semikha to be done before Yom Tov begins and are not concerned with the time lapse between the semikha and the Sheḥiṭa.
Beitza 18a-b: Immersing on Shabbat to Prepare for Yom Tov
18/09/2021 - 12th of Tishrei, 5782
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
During Temple times, those who were fulfilling the mitzva of aliya la-regel - pilgrimage to the Temple on the holidays of Pesah, Shavu'ot and Sukkot - needed to immerse themselves in a mikvah in order to ensure a high level of ritual purity. What happened when Yom Tov fell out on Sunday? Could the immersion be done on Shabbat in preparation for the holiday? The Mishna (17b) teaches that Beit Shammai insisted that, in such a case, immersions had to be done before Shabbat. Beit Hillel allowed people to go to the mikvah on Shabbat, but rule that any utensils that were needed had to be immersed before Shabbat. Many explanations are offered in the Gemara as to why Beit Hillel differentiated between a person and his utensils. According to Rava, immersing a utensil appears to be tikkun keli - fixing the utensil - which is forbidden on Shabbat, while a person appears to be simply cooling himself off. The Gemara argues that even on Yom Kippur, when bathing is ordinarily forbidden, such an immersion would be permitted since it is permitted on Shabbat, as well. The Re'ah explains that this logic is based on the fact that bathing on Yom Kippur is forbidden only when it is solely for pleasure, which is not the case when someone immerses in the mikvah for reasons of ritual purity.
We learn in a mishna: One who is concerned about pain in his teeth may not sip vinegar through them on Shabbat in order to alleviate his toothache; however, he may dip his food in vinegar in his usual manner during the meal and eat it, and if he is healed by the vinegar, he is healed.
In this parallel case brought by the Gemara, there is an activity that would be forbidden, but when done under circumstances where appearances indicate that it is being done for another reason, it is permitted. This Mishna in Shabbat (111a) teaches that someone with a toothache cannot sip vinegar on Shabbat because of the Rabbinic ruling that medicine cannot be taken on Shabbat except in cases of danger to life. If, however, he is eating bread, he can dip his bread into the vinegar and eat it, even though it will have the same effect, since this appears to simply be an act of dining. Vinegar was a popular remedy for toothaches in Talmudic times. When a person has a cavity - particularly when the nerve becomes exposed - vinegar is a painful drink, indeed (see Mishlei 10:26). However, when the gums are irritated, or when fluid builds up in the gums, vinegar can offer relief by lowering the osmotic pressure.
Beitza 17a-b: Preparing an Eiruv Tavashilin
17/09/2021 - 11th of Tishrei, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
We learned in the Mishna (15b) that when Yom Tov falls out on Friday, preparation for Shabbat can be done only if an eiruv tavshilin is prepared before Yom Tov begins. The Ra'avad explains that the idea of the eiruv tavshilin - literally "a combination of foods" - is to prepare a meal for Shabbat at a time when it is permissible, and then food that is made on Yom Tov can be combined with that food in preparation for Shabbat. Beit Shammai are quoted in the Mishna as requiring two types of food for the eiruv tavshilin, while Beit Hillel require just one. All are in agreement that fish with an egg on it is considered adequate. While this last comment seems obvious, the suggestion is that perhaps this is considered one dish, and it should not be enough for Beit Shammai. The Ri”d explains that this refers to fish eggs – kosher caviar – which at first glance may not appear to be a separate food. The Me'iri explains Beit Shammai's requirement of two foods as a symbolic meal prepared for Shabbat, for which a single item of food would not suffice. The Gemara on our daf quotes a baraita that has a different tradition with regard to the opinions of Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel. According to Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar, Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel agree that the eiruv tavshilin requires two foods; their argument is over whether a single dish, like fish prepared with egg, meets the requirement. Beit Shammai insists that two separate foods be prepared, while Beit Hillel rules that such a dish meets the requirement. Rava concludes the discussion by ruling that we follow Beit Hillel according to the version found in the Mishna. Thus, an eiruv tavshilin really only requires a single prepared food. Nevertheless, the tradition is to use a cooked food together with bread or matza, which would fulfill the requirement according to Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar's opinion, as well (see the Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayyim 627:2).
Beitza 16a-b: Preparing for Shabbat
16/09/2021 - 10th of Tishrei, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The second chapter of Massekhet Beitza, which begins on the last daf (15b), focuses on preparations for Shabbat and Yom Tov. The Mishna deals specifically with the case of Yom Tov falling out on Friday, when it is necessary to prepare for Shabbat on a day that has its own restrictions regarding food preparations and other melakhot. The Gemara on our daf brings a well-known disagreement between Hillel and Shammai. Shammai would prepare for Shabbat every day of the week in the following manner: Each time a delicacy came his way, he would purchase it and set it aside for Shabbat. If he found something better in the course of the week, he would replace the original delicacy with the new-found one, and eat the first one. In that way, his meals - not only on Shabbat, but throughout the week - were eaten with Shabbat in mind. Hillel, on the other hand, did all of his activities for the sake of heaven, quoting the passage in Tehillim (68:20), "Blessed be the Lord, day by day…" While Shammai's behavior is fairly easy to understand, Hillel's demands some explanation. Rashi explains that Hillel had full faith in God and was certain that He would make sure that all of the food and other Shabbat needs would be made available for him. Thus, he did not spend time and effort preparing for Shabbat on his own. The R"i Abohav explains that all of Hillel's activities throughout the week were with Shabbat in mind, so there was no need for him to announce that a specific purchase was for Shabbat. The Hatam Sofer argues that Hillel devoted his entire life to the service of God, so that everything that he did (and not only specific acts of mitzva) was with the intention to fulfill God's desire. As such, all of his activities - even his apparently mundane weekday activities - were infused with intentions of mitzva. The general agreement among rishonim and acharonim is that, in this case, it is Shammai who should be emulated, not Hillel. In many places, Shammai's tradition is quoted as normative and praised (see, for example, Rashi's commentary to the Torah, Sh'mot 20:8), while Hillel's is seen as appropriate only for people with a unique level of faith - and inappropriate for the average person.
Beitza 15a-b: When Tefillin are Inappropriate
15/09/2021 - 9th of Tishrei, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Although it is common practice today to wear tefillin just for the morning prayer service of shaharit, in the time of the Gemara it was commonplace for people to wear tefillin throughout the day. Nevertheless, there are times when wearing tefillin is inappropriate - for example on Shabbat and Yom Tov, or at night As a segue from the Mishna's mention of carrying tefillin on Yom Tov, our Gemara quotes two halakhot about tefillin:
  1. If a person is wearing tefillin while traveling and the sun sets, he should cover the tefillin with his hand until he arrives at home.
  2. If a person is wearing tefillin while studying in the beit midrash and Shabbat begins, he should cover the tefillin with his hand until he arrives at home.
Rashi explains that both cases are discussing scenarios in which Shabbat begins while the man is wearing tefillin. Tosafot and other rishonim point to the change in expression (the sun sets vs. Shabbat begins) and argue that there are two distinct cases being discussed. In the first case, the traveler finds that nightfall has arrived and he should not be wearing tefillin; in the second case the man studying finds that Shabbat has begun and that he should not be wearing tefillin. Rabbeinu Peretz defends Rashi's reading of the Gemara by explaining that the traveler is outside and immediately ascertains that it is dark, while the individual in the beit midrash may not realize that the day has ended until much later. The issue with regard to the beit midrash is, apparently, the fact that the study halls were often situated outside of the city limits. We therefore find many situations in the Gemara where people are afraid to leave the beit midrash at night without others accompanying them. It is possible that the batei midrash were built in this way in order to divide the cost of the building and upkeep between a number of communities, or to allow the residents of small, outlying villages to have ready access to the study hall.
Beitza 14a-b: Salt and Spices
14/09/2021 - 8th of Tishrei, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
We have already established that, based on the passage in Sh'mot 12:16, food preparation is permitted on Yom Tov. The Mishna on our daf discusses the preparation of spices and salt. We find that Beit Shammai insist that some change be made in the way spices are ground up (grinding is one of the activities ordinarily forbidden on Shabbat), while Beit Hillel allow grinding to be done normally. Both agree, however, that salt should be ground in an out-of-the-ordinary way - by using a wooden pestle rather than the standard stone pestle.
What is the reason for this? Rav Huna and Rav Hisda disputed this issue. One of them said: Everyone knows that all dishes require salt, and therefore one should prepare salt the day before the Festival. Since he failed to do so, this task may be performed on the Festival only in an unusual manner. But not all dishes require spices, and therefore it is possible that on the day prior to the Festival, one was not aware that he would require spices on the Festival. And the other one said a different reason: All spices lose their flavor and cannot be prepared ahead of time, and salt does not lose its flavor, which means one could have prepared it the day before. Since he neglected to do so, he may prepare salt on the Festival only in an unusual manner.
The discussion that takes place in the rishonim revolves around the question of how we are to regard salt: Is salt considered a food, or is it merely an ingredient that is used in preparing food - makhshi'rei okhel nefesh? If it is the latter, then we can well understand that it cannot be prepared in the normal way, since makhshi'rei okhel nefesh are not included in the things that are permitted based on Sh'mot 12:16. If, however, salt is considered food, then why should we not permit it to be prepared as it always is? The Ran and Re'ah suggest that salt is different than other foods because it is not usually ground at home in small quantities. Ordinarily salt is prepared commercially and ground up in large amounts, and such preparation appears to be a weekday activity - a ma'aseh hol - which is why a change in the method of preparation is required.
Beitza 13a-b: Distributing Tithes
13/09/2021 - 7th of Tishrei, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
When a farmer harvests his crop, the Torah obligates him to offer a series of tithes to the kohanim and levi'im as well as to the poor. Among these tithes we find:
  • Teruma gedola– contribution to the kohen, which biblically can be any amount (the Sages recommended 1/40, 1/50 or 1/60 of the harvest)
  • Ma'aser rishon – one-tenth of the remaining crop, which is given to the levi
  • Terumat ma'aser – the levi gives to the kohen one-tenth of the ma'aser rishon that he received
Although teruma gedola does not need to be measured, since it can be any amount, how is one to measure the harvest in order to assure that the correct amount is distributed for ma'aser rishon and terumat ma'aser? The Talmud Yerushalmi offers three acceptable options:
  • Good: Moneh – the number of bushels harvested are counted
  • Better: Moded – the harvest is measured
  • Best: Shokel – the harvest is weighed
Our Gemara brings the opinion of Abba Elazar ben Gimmel who quotes the passage in Bamidbar 18:27 and interprets it as meaning that there are two types of teruma, both of which can be distributed based on estimation and intent. This opinion is accepted as the halakha by the Rambam (Hilkhot Terumot 3:4), who rules that it is a mitzva to distribute teruma gedola based on estimation rather than by weighing or measuring it. The Me'iri applies this ruling to terumat ma'aser, as well, arguing that it is the responsibility of the levi to be sure that he estimates generously so that the kohen will receive no less that 10 of the ma'aser rishon that the levi received. This teaching of Abba Elazar ben Gimmel is the only one that has been preserved, although due to its importance it appears several times in the Talmud. In the Sifrei the name appears as Abba Elazar ben Gamliel and the contraction to "Gimmel", "Gomel" and "Gamla" (as it appears in other sources) appears to be a nickname of sorts. He appears to have been a contemporary of Rabbi Akiva; during that period the title "Abba" was the honorific title given to a number of Sages.
Beitza 12a-b: Carrying on Yom Tov
12/09/2021 - 6th of Tishrei, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we have learned on the previous pages of Massekhet Beitza, the passage that forbids work on Yom Tov specifically permits those activities that are essential for food preparation for the holiday (see Sh'mot 12:16). Aside from activities that are directly related to food preparation, like cooking and baking, it is generally accepted that carrying from one place to another is also essential – to bring ingredients or prepared food to the house of a neighbor. In the Mishna on our daf we learn that Beit Shammai forbids carrying a child, a lulav or a Sefer Torah into the public domain, while Beit Hillel permits them to be moved from one place to another. The Gemara explains that Beit Hillel rules kevan she-hutra le-tzorekh, hutra nami she-lo le-tzorekh – once carrying is permitted for the sake of food preparation on Yom Tov, it is permitted even for reasons aside from that of food preparation. Beit Shammai rejects this line of reasoning. Even Beit Hillel would agree that there needs to be some purpose in carrying in order for it to be permitted on Yom Tov; lugging around rocks is forbidden even according to Beit Hillel. The purpose can be the needs of a mitzva – like carrying a lulav to the synagogue or a Sefer Torah to study from, or the needs of simhat Yom Tov, enhancing the joyousness of the holiday. Rabbeinu Tam explains that a child can be taken outside because staying at home, or leaving family members behind, would detract from the simhat Yom Tov of both the child and his parents. Rabbenu Hananel explains that all of the cases in the Mishna are referring to situations where the object needs to be carried for the purpose of a mitzva– the child needs to be circumcised, the lulav to be shaken during Hallel in the synagogue, the Sefer Torah to be read from. Rashi, however, interprets the cases to be any need, even if it is not specifically a mitzva.
Beitza 11a-b: Using a Pestle on Yom Tov
11/09/2021 - 5th of Tishrei, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
di mortar and pestleAnother case of muktze that is discussed by Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel is the case of an eli – a board of sorts that was ordinarily used to grind or crush things that cannot be done on Yom Tov. Can such a pestle be used for permitted food preparation – e.g. cutting meat – on Yom Tov, or is it considered muktze and cannot be moved? In the Mishna, Beit Shammai forbids the use of an eli, while Beit Hillel permits its use. Tosafot ask why the eli cannot be used according to Beit Shammai. Although the ordinary use of the eli is for acts that are forbidden on Yom Tov, this appears to be a case of a keli she-melakhto le-issur, le-tzorekh gufo – it is an implement which is ordinarily used for a forbidden purpose (which would make it muktze) for its own self – i.e. for another, permitted, purpose. Ordinarily such use – like cracking nuts with a hammer – is not considered muktze and would be permitted on Yom Tov. This question also appears in the Talmud Yerushalmi, which offers an answer similar to Tosafot, that this eli is muktze for other reasons beyond its being a utensil used for activities forbidden on Yom Tov. The additional source of muktze might be that it is a valuable implement which is muktze mahamat hisaron kis – because of its value – and cannot be used for another purpose (Tosafot) or it is a large utensil that has a specific place set aside and is not really used for purposes other than its central function (Tosafot R"id). According to this answer, Beit Hillel, who permits its use, does so only because they are lenient in order to encourage simhat Yom Tov – to enhance the joyousness of the holiday. The Me'iri gives a different explanation to the Mishna. According to him, Beit Shammai forbids use of the eli because is appears to be a ma'aseh hol – a weekday activity – something that is not accepted by Beit Hillel.
Beitza 10a-b: Setting Animals Aside for Use on Yom Tov
10/09/2021 - 4th of Tishrei, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Generally speaking, animals are considered muktze on Shabbat and Yom Tov. That is to say, farm animals whose normal activities are associated with melakhot – activities forbidden on those days – cannot be used. Thus, in the event that an animal is to be slaughtered for food on Yom Tov, it must be prepared or set aside for such use prior to the beginning of the holiday. The Mishnayot on our daf discuss doves that are set aside for food on Yom Tov. Beit Shammai rules that the doves must actually be handled to indicate that they have been chosen, while according to Beit Hillel it is enough to choose them by making a statement about which ones you want. It is interesting to note that in this case, all agree that the concept of muktze exists, apparently because animals are similar to the case of drying fruit, which - as we will see at the end of the tractate - is something that everyone agrees is muktze. In the case of drying fruit, once the fruit is put out to become dried it is clear to everyone that it has been set aside and will not be eaten – or even touched – until the drying process is complete. A similar idea exists in our case, where animals are set aside specifically for work (in the case of doves, they are usually raised to be trained as homing pigeons or carrier pigeons), and cannot be used for another purpose without a clear statement before the holiday. The Re'ah points out that this is true only of animals like doves that are not specifically raised to be used for food. Chickens or geese, for example, which are raised for slaughter, would not require such preparation. Nevertheless, according to the Yam Shel Shlomo it is appropriate to choose specific chickens or geese before Yom Tov and set them aside, as well, if they are to be slaughtered on Yom Tov. An obvious question that comes up regarding the Gemara's discussion of this matter is whether a person can announce before Yom Tov that the entire dovecote is set aside for slaughter for food on the holiday. Making such an announcement does not obligate one to use all of the doves, and would solve the Gemara's concerns with which birds were actually prepared. The Rashba argues that someone who makes such a statement can successfully avoid all problems. Rabbeinu Peretz, Rabbenu Yeruham and others say that this cannot be done because no one who raises doves would plan to destroy his entire dovecote, so the statement cannot be taken seriously.
Beitza 9a-b: The Appearance of Prohibition
09/09/2021 - 3rd of Tishrei, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The new Mishna on our daf  brings yet another disagreement between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel on the topic of food preparation on Yom Tov. If a person needs to climb up into a dovecote to bring down doves for food, Beit Shammai forbids moving a ladder from one dovecote to another, although he can shift it from one opening to another in the same dovecote. Beit Hillel permits even moving the ladder for one dovecote to another. R' Hanan bar Ami argues that the only disagreement is in public, when Beit Shammai is concerned with marit ayin. He is afraid that people will think that the ladder is being moved to assist in painting the roof – an activity forbidden on Yom Tov – while Beit Hillel is not concerned about that, since the dovecote indicates that the true nature of his activity is a permitted one. Were the dovecote in a private area, where there is no concern that someone will see and draw the wrong conclusion, even Beit Shammai permits moving the ladder.
The Gemara asks: Is that so? But didn't Rav Yehuda say that Rav said: Wherever the Sages prohibited an action due to the appearance of prohibition [marit ayin], even if one performs the act in his innermost chamber, where no one will see it, it is prohibited.
While our Gemara suggests that the tanna'im differ regarding this position, the Talmud Yerushalmi quotes a series of Mishnayot that clearly distinguish between activities done in public – which are forbidden – and in private – which are permitted, based upon which, the Yerushalmi rejects Rav's teaching entirely. The Rashba and others suggest that there is room to differentiate between cases where there is suspicion of an act that is truly forbidden (like our case where painting the roof is forbidden on Yom Tov) and cases where people mistakenly think that a given action is forbidden. In the latter cases the Sages forbade performing such an action publicly, but permitted it to be done in private. The Rambam rules that marit ayin applies even in private, and explains that our Mishna is a unique case where the Sages were lenient in order to encourage joyous celebration of the holiday.
Beitza 8a-b: Slaughtering a Koy on Yom Tov
08/09/2021 - 2nd of Tishrei, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
On yesterday's daf we were introduced to the mitzva of kissuy ha-dam – the obligation to cover the blood of fowl or undomesticated animals that are slaughtered (see Vayikra 17:13). Thus, someone who performs Sheḥiṭa on chicken or venison would be obligated to cover the blood, whereas Sheḥiṭa on cattle – e.g. cows, sheep, goats – would not be obligated in this mitzva. The Gemara on our daf introduces a koy – an animal that has the features of both a wild animal and a domesticated one – and rules that such an animal cannot be slaughtered on Yom Tov, since it is not clear whether slaughtering a koy obligates the shohet in kissuy ha-dam. Were it not Yom Tov, we could simply cover the blood without reciting the blessing. Since it is Yom Tov, however, we cannot permit a melakha to be done if there is doubt as to whether it is truly an obligation in this case. Identifying the koy is a difficult task. Even though it is mentioned many times in the Mishna and Talmudic literature, that is not because it is a common animal, rather because its status between a wild and domesticated animal allows it to be a test case for many halakhot. The disagreement as to its identification began in the time of the Mishna, when some of the Sages argued that it is the offspring of a deer or similar animal with a goat. Others claim that it is a unique type of animal – an Ayal ha-bar. The Ayal ha-bar can be identified with the ovis musimon, which, according to many, is the forerunner of domesticated cattle. It is distinguished by its short hair and grey color, and it lives in mountainous regions, where it is a nimble climber – today mainly in uninhabited areas in Europe. It is likely that the clear similarities between a koy and a sheep, together with its being a wild animal, led to the Sages’ confusion about its classification. Its name – koy – and even the pronunciation of the name, are themselves the subject of disagreement.
Beitza 7a-b: Ritual Slaughter on Yom Tov
07/09/2021 - 1st of Tishrei, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
We have learned that activities that are essential for food preparation are permitted on Yom Tov, based on Sh'mot 12:16. Among the activities that are part-and-parcel of preparing a holiday meal is Sheḥiṭa – ritual slaughter – without which fresh meat would not be available. [It should be noted that modern innovations such as refrigeration have relegated Sheḥiṭa to commercial slaughterhouses, and the kosher kitchen rarely deals directly with such halakhot.] di deker colorSome animals – specifically fowl and undomesticated animals – require a ritual called kissuy ha-dam, covering the blood of the slaughtered animal (see Vayikra 17:13). The Mishna (2a) takes for granted that a person can, theoretically, slaughter an animal for its meat on Yom Tov, but what should be done about covering the blood? Plowing and other types of digging are forbidden on Shabbat and Yom Tov; the act of covering the blood – while an important mitzva in connection with the act of  Sheḥiṭa– cannot be considered an essential part of food preparation. The Re'ah explains that even Beit Shammai agrees that there has to be some level of preparation prior to the holiday for covering the blood. Thus he does not permit digging, rather making use of an implement that already was in the ground.
Beitza 6a-b: If Someone Dies on Yom Tov
06/09/2021 - 29th of Elul, 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
Rava teaches that if someone dies on Yom Tov and needs to be buried, non-Jews are brought to make the preparations and do the burial if it is the first day of Yom Tov; on the second day of Yom Tov, we allow Jews to do whatever is necessary. This is true not only on Pesah, Shavu'ot and Sukkot, but also on Rosh HaShana, when, as we learned yesterday, the second day is considered an extension of the first. The leniency connected with funerals stems from the Jewish attitude towards burial as an issue of kavod ha-beri'ot - basic human dignity, both for the deceased and for the family of the deceased. The Sages of the Talmud state unequivocally that kavod ha-beri'ot pushes aside Rabbinic laws of lo tasur (see Devarim 17:11); that is to say, many prohibitions established by Sages can be dispensed with since the mitzva of burying the dead takes precedence. Based on this, Rava teaches that on the first day of the holiday - when all melakhot are biblically forbidden for a Jew to perform, and asking a non-Jew to perform those activities is forbidden by the Sages - we permit a non-Jew to do whatever is necessary for the burial. On the second day of the holiday, which is, in its entirety, of Rabbinic origin, we dispense with all prohibitions connected with the funeral, as having Jews take care of the burial is considered to be an honor to the deceased. Given the importance given to these ceremonies, the Me'iri asks why we do not permit funerals to take place on Shabbat or Yom Kippur, on the condition that all forbidden activities be performed by non-Jews. He answers that the high level of holiness connected with those holidays led the Sages to establish their ordinances on those days as being on level with biblical prohibitions that cannot be pushed aside.
Beitza 5a-b: The Second Day of Rosh HaShana
05/09/2021 - 28th of Elul, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The discussion on yesterday's daf  was whether a beitza she-noldah be-Yom Tov (an egg that was laid on the holiday) was considered muktze on the second day of the holiday in the Diaspora. Our discussion focused on why we still keep a second day even at a time when we work with a set calendar and no longer need to communicate the establishment of the new month to far-flung communities. The Gemara on our daf teaches that, on Rosh HaShana, all are in agreement that an egg laid the first day cannot be used on the second day, either. The Gemara points to a Mishna in Rosh HaShana (30b) as the source for this rule. The Mishna there told of an incident that took place in Jerusalem, where the witnesses who came to testify about the beginning of the month of Tishrei arrived in the late afternoon. By the time the Sanhedrin accepted their statement and announced that that day was Rosh HaShana, the service in the Temple had already begun and the Levi'im erred in the mizmor that they had begun singing. From that time on, two days of Rosh HaShana became normative, even in Israel. Rabba comments that following the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, the concern about mistakes in the Temple service no longer existed, pointing out that Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai once again accepted testimony about Rosh Hodesh Tishrei all day.
Abaye said to him: But didn't Rav and Shmuel both say that an egg [on the second day of Rosh HaShana] is prohibited? Rabba said to him: Your question is out of place; I say to you a statement in the name of the distinguished tanna Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai, and you say to me a ruling of the amora'im Rav and Shmuel? The Gemara asks: And according to the opinion of Rav and Shmuel, isn't it true that the mishna is difficult, as it indicates that the special status of Rosh HaShana has been revoked? The Gemara answers that this is not difficult: This ruling is for us, those who live outside of Eretz Yisrael, who have kept the ancient custom of observing two Festival days, and therefore Rosh HaShana is still considered one long day and constitute a single sanctity. Conversely, that ruling of the mishna is for them, the inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael.
The simple reading of this Gemara seems to imply that, in Israel, only one day of Rosh HaShana is celebrated (see Rashi, who clearly understands the Gemara this way). The Ge'onim of Babylon, as well as the Ri"f and others, argue that Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai did not change the basic rule, and even during his time Rosh HaShana was kept as a two day holiday. Nevertheless, other rishonim, including the Ramban and Rabbenu Efra'im, rule that in Israel only one day is kept, not only in the immediate vicinity of the Sanhedrin that establishes the new month, but in all of Israel, since we now rely on a set calendar. There is historical evidence which seems to indicate that Rosh HaShana was kept for only one day in Israel until immigrants from Provence came and changed the tradition. Today the accepted practice is to celebrate Rosh HaShana for two days in Israel as well as in the Diaspora.
Beitza 4a-b: Second Day of Yom Tov in the Diaspora
04/09/2021 - 27th of Elul, 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 (2a) discussed whether an egg that is laid on Yom Tov can be used on that day, taking for granted that it can certainly be used once the holiday has ended. How about the situation, common in the Diaspora, where we celebrate two days of Yom Tov, one after another? Can an egg laid on the first day of Yom Tov be used on the second day? The Gemara teaches that this is the subject of a disagreement between Rav, who permits its use on the second day, and Rav Asi, who forbids it. Given the reality that, today, we operate with a set calendar, the basis for the continued tradition of keeping two days of Yom Tov in the Diaspora demands explanation. While Rav Saadia Ga'on writes that keeping a second day of Yom Tov in the Diaspora is based on biblical law, Rav Hai Ga'on argues that he only said that as a response to heretics, but it should not be accepted as a true halakhic statement. His explanation is that although the second day was established for reasons of doubt (i.e. Diaspora communities oftentimes did not receive the information about the establishment of the new month until after the Yom Tov began), it was a rule already established by the prophets, which carries with it significant halakhic weight. The prophets needed to establish the second day because of the distance of Jewish communities from Israel, where the Sanhedrin sat and established the months based on testimony from witnesses. According to the Rambam in his Sefer Mitzvot, the calendar that we currently use is, itself, the establishment of the Sanhedrin, who, during the time of Hillel ha-Sheni, determined the beginning of every month. Indeed, the Ra'avan quotes the Sages of Magence as teaching that the two days of Yom Tov are not kept because of the question regarding the actual date of the holiday, but rather as a takkana - a Rabbinic ordinance that the holiness of the Yom Tov extends for an extra day. This helps us understand why Diaspora Jews continue to recite the blessings for the holiday even on the second day, which we ordinarily would not do if the mitzva were only being done mi-safek - for reasons of doubt. The Hatam Sofer writes that when we recite the blessing asher kidshanu be-mitzvotav ve-tzivanu - that we are fulfilling a commandment with this activity - the reference is not to the activities of the second day, but rather to the concept of the holiday, which is what we are truly commanded.
Beitza 3a-b: Supporting a Bed on an Egg
03/09/2021 - 26th of Elul, 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 discussing the use of a newly laid egg on Shabbat or Yom Tov, the Gemara quotes a baraita which teaches that using such an egg is forbidden; nevertheless it can be covered with a bowl to protect it and then it can be used when Shabbat or Yom Tov has ended. The examples given by the baraita of possible uses for the egg are of some interest - the baraita suggests that it might have been used to cover a utensil or to support a bed. Support a bed!? The rishonim were quick to ask why the baraita would suggest supporting a large, heavy object like a bed with an egg. In truth, mechanically speaking, the structure of an egg is, theoretically, very strong - strong enough to withstand enormous pressure without breaking, even though its shell is very thin. Practically, however, without a specially prepared apparatus, it would be impossible to have an egg actually support something large and heavy. Therefore, the logical approach to the baraita is the one suggested by the Me'iri and others. They explain that the "bed" referred to is not a bed that people sleep on, but rather a type of bowl or other utensil that is used on a table, which, because of its shape - some say that it has a rounded bottom like that of a small ship - needs to be supported by something. An egg, apparently, was the object of choice to hold up this "bed." To support his theory, the Me'iri points out a word in Arabic for such a table utensil - hamta - which is similar to the Hebrew word for bed: ha-mita. In Mishnayot Ma'asrot (1:9) we find the word hamita used in such a context, and the Rambam in his Perush ha-Mishnayot there translates the word as a small earthen vessel that is sometimes used on the table.
Beitza 2a-b: An Egg Laid on a Festival
02/09/2021 - 25th of Elul, 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
One of the Rabbinic ordinances developed by the Sages to protect the sanctity of Shabbat and holidays is the rule forbidding moving objects that are considered muktze - that is, things that a person puts out of his mind and does not intend on using during Shabbat or Yom Tov. This can be done either by a conscious act or decision on the part of the person, or alternatively if the object is not usable for any activities that are permitted on Shabbat. Apart from this general statement, there are many differences in how muktze is defined. Some of the basic definitions are as follows:
  • Raw materials that are in a form that does not allow them to be used on Shabbat
  • Utensils whose sole use involves an activity that is forbidden on Shabbat
  • Objects that are not used because they are disgusting
  • Objects whose value is so great that they are used only for very specific tasks
Other categories of muktze include things that a person actively sets aside so that they are not used on Shabbat, and nolad – something that could not have been prepared for use before Shabbat because it was "born" or came into existence only on Shabbat. It is this case of nolad that Massekhet Beitza opens with - beitza she-nolda be-Yom Tov - an egg that was laid on the holiday and did not exist when Yom Tov began. Is it considered ready for use on the holiday, or will it be considered muktze since it did not exist beforehand? Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel disagree on this point. Beit Shammai permits the use of the egg on Yom Tov, while Beit Hillel forbids it. The Gemara offers several different explanations for their disagreement, including the following:
Rabba said: We are dealing with a chicken designated for food and we are dealing with an egg that was laid on a Festival that occurs after Shabbat, i.e., on a Sunday. And the relevant issue is not the halakhot of muktze; rather, one may not eat the egg due to the prohibition against preparation from Shabbat to a Festival. And in this regard, Rabba holds that any egg laid now was already fully developed yesterday, and merely emerged from the chicken today. Consequently, an egg laid on a Festival that occurred on a Sunday may not be eaten, as it was prepared on Shabbat, despite the fact that it was prepared naturally, by Heaven, rather than by man.
Thus, Beit Hillel forbids use of the egg because it was prepared on Shabbat for use on Sunday (he also forbids it when Yom Tov falls on another day of the week, lest someone mistakenly permit it on Sunday, as well). It is not clear when exactly halakha considers an egg to be "completed," but from a biological perspective, it takes almost exactly 24 hours from the time that the egg is released from the ovary of the chicken to the time that it completes the preparation process and is laid. Thus, Rabba is correct that every egg that is laid has been prepared from the day before.
Sukka 56a-b: The Family of Bilga
01/09/2021 - 24th of Elul, 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 closing story in Massekhet Sukka is a sad one. In it we learn of the priestly family of Bilga, whose rights and privileges in the Temple were curtailed. Rav Shlomo Adani explains in his Melekhet Shlomo that the punishments - receiving their portion of the lehem ha-panim (the shewbread) in the south, and having their ring for slaughtering and their window sealed up - all indicated that they were finished with their work in the Temple and were about to leave. What led to these restrictions? The Gemara gives two explanations:
  1. When it was their turn to serve in the Temple the family came late - or perhaps, as suggested by the Rashash, not all of them came - and the next family was forced to work a double shift to make up for their absence.
  2. Miriam the daughter of Bilga rejected Judaism and married a Greek soldier. When the Greeks entered the Temple sanctuary and defiled it, Miriam kicked the altar with her shoe and shouted "Lokos, Lokos [wolf, wolf], until when will you consume the property of the Jewish people, and yet you do not stand with them when they face exigent circumstances?" (The Maharsha explains that the metaphor of the altar as a wolf stemmed from the parallel between a wolf that attacked and ate sheep and the altar upon which the daily korban tamid - a sheep - was brought regularly.)
The Jerusalem Talmud sees her behavior as so problematic that it asks why the family of Bilga did not lose their rights entirely, answering that the 24 family mishmarot (watches) were an essential part of the order of the Temple service and could not be easily done away with.
Do we penalize the entire watch of Bilga because of his daughter? Abaye said: Yes, as people say, the speech of a child in the marketplace is learned either from that of his father or from that of his mother. Miriam would never have said such things had she not heard talk of that kind in her parents' home. The Gemara asks: And due to Miriam's father and mother, do we penalize an entire watch? Abaye said: Woe unto the wicked, woe unto his neighbor.
In order to end the Massekhet on a happier note, the Gemara also quotes Abaye as teaching, "Good fortune to a tzaddik, and to his neighbor, as well.”
Sukka 55a-b: The Song of the Day
31/08/2021 - 23th of Elul, 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 traditionally close our daily morning prayers with one of the mizmorei Tehillim. This mizmor is taken from the daily Psalm sung when the morning sacrifice - the tamid shel shahar - was brought. Our Gemara quotes a baraita that describes how, in the Beit HaMikdash, a special mizmor was sung in connection with the musaf sacrifice on each day of Sukkot. It is interesting to note that only the mizmorim for hol ha-mo'ed - the intermediary days - are enumerated in the baraita, while the holidays themselves are not explained. Although it does not appear in our Gemara, Massekhet Soferim does offer Psalms for the holidays, as well; mizmor 76, which refers to God's sukka (see verse 3) is mentioned as the mizmor sung on the first day, and mizmor 12, entitled lamenatze'ah al ha-sheminit was the Psalm of Shemini Atzeret, the eighth day of the Sukkot celebrations. There are a number of explanations given for the choice of particular mizmorim for each day of Sukkot. The Me'iri summarizes them as follows:
  • Day one (as referred to by the Gemara, but it is actually the second day of Sukkot): Mizmor 29, which includes "the voice of God over the waters" and is understood as referring to nisukh ha-mayim - the water libation.
  • Day two (third day): Mizmor 50, which mentions the obligation to fulfill the vows that were made to God (see verse 14), something that was traditionally taken care of while in Jerusalem for the holiday.
  • Day three and Day four (fourth and fifth days): Mizmor 94, whose focus is on God taking vengeance against the enemies of the Jewish people. During Second Temple times, when the Jews were subject to oppression by outside forces, this would have been an appropriate Psalm to say in prayer.
  • Day five (sixth day): Mizmor 81, whose closing passage discusses the generous produce yielded by the Land of Israel (see verse 17).
  • Day six (Hoshanah Rabbah - the seventh day): Mizmor 82, whose focus is on God sitting in judgment. This is appropriate, for the last day of hol ha-mo'ed Sukkot - Hoshanah Rabbah - is traditionally seen as a day of judgment for the year's supply of water.
According to Rashi, aside from days three and four (when a single mizmor was split in half), the entire psalm was sung together with the musaf sacrifice. The Ritva argues that only a selection of the mizmor was chosen to accompany the korban.
Sukka 54a-b: The Timing of the Holidays
30/08/2021 - 22th of Elul, 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
Our Gemara discusses the timing of Sukkot and comments that the first day cannot fall out on a Friday. If the new moon of the month of Tishrei appears on a Friday, which would cause the 15th of the month (the first day of Sukkot) to fall out on Friday, as well, we push off the first day of the month - Rosh HaShana - to Shabbat. The Gemara explains that this reconfiguration of the lunar calendar is necessary because we want to avoid having Yom Kippur, which is on the tenth day of Tishrei, fall out on a Sunday. The discussion in the Gemara is based on the contemporary lunar calendar which is a set calendar and is not based on testimony from witnesses who come to the Sanhedrin to report on their seeing the new moon. According to our calendar, Rosh HaShana can never fall out on Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday, so Sukkot, which is exactly two weeks later on the 15th of the month, cannot fall on those days either. This arrangement is made in order to avoid having Yom Kippur fall on either Friday or Sunday, since two days in a row (including Shabbat) on which all work – even cooking – is forbidden, would be difficult for people. According to some sources, it appears that even when the calendar was based on witnesses who came to testify that they saw the new moon, various methods were employed to insure that Yom Kippur would not fall out immediately before or after Shabbat. Nevertheless, it is likely that, on occasion, it would be impossible to shift the day, since a month cannot be less than 29 days long (according to our present-day calendar, Rosh HaShana is sometimes pushed off from the actual new moon by two full days to accommodate the needs of these holidays) and Yom Kippur would fall out on Friday or Sunday. According to the Rambam, the shift in the calendar serves another purpose, as well. He believes that pushing off Rosh HaShana allows for a more precise correlation between the solar calendar and the lunar months, correcting minor discrepancies that exist even when the leap year is added at the correct time.
Sukka 53a-b: Are You Here?
29/08/2021 - 21th of Elul, 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 at the beginning of the perek (50a), the Sages and other members of the community would dance and sing as part of the simhat bet ha-sho'evah (joyous water libation) procession. The Gemara on our daf  quotes a tosefta that recorded some of the songs. According to the tosefta, those dancers who grew up devoted to Torah would sing praise for the fact that their youth did not embarrass their old age. The ba'ale teshuvah - those who became committed to keeping the Torah only later in life - sang in praise of their old age, which made up for the sins of their youth. All sang together, praising those who did not sin and encouraging those who did to repent.
It is taught in the Tosefta: They said about Hillel the Elder that when he was rejoicing at the Celebration of the Place of the Drawing of the Water he said this: If I am here, everyone is here; and if I am not here, who is here? In other words, one must consider himself as the one upon whom it is incumbent to fulfill obligations, and he must not rely on others to do so.
Hillel ha-Zaken lived during the Second Temple period and participated in these processions. His unusual comment is interpreted by Rashi to refer to God - i.e., Hillel is speaking on behalf of God, that when His presence is in a given place, then everything is there, but if His presence is missing, then there is nothing of value in that place. Some explain that Hillel was speaking on behalf of the community at large, and was simply including himself among them. The Talmud Yerushalmi explains that Hillel's statement reflected what he saw going on in the crowd. If the people were dancing for their own pleasure and not for the joy of the holiday, then he would sing that if the community were not gathered for the appropriate purpose, then who was there? Does God need crowds of people in the Temple? Does He not have an infinite number of angels who praise him? On the other hand, if Hillel saw that the people were dancing with the proper intent in praise of God, he would sing out that since the community is here, God desires the Jewish People more than anything else and it is as though everything is here.
Sukka 52a-b: The Evil Inclination
28/08/2021 - 20th of Elul, 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
Most of today's daf  focuses on the yetzer ha-ra - the evil inclination. Rav Avira expounds: There are seven names given to the yetzer ha-ra:
  1. God called it ra - evil (see Bereshit 8:21)
  2. Moshe called it arel - uncircumcised (see Devarim 10:16)
  3. King David called it tameh - defiled (see Tehillim 51:12)
  4. King Solomon called it soneh - hated (see Mishle 25:21-22)
  5. Yeshayahu called it mikhshol - a stumbling block (see Yeshayahu 57:14)
  6. Yehezkel called it even - a stone (see Yehezkel 36:26)
  7. Yo'el called it hatzefoni – the hidden one (see Yo'el 2:20)
One explanation for the different names is that they express different levels of evil, ranging from the latent evil that exists in every person (ra), to the ability of the yetzer ha-ra to hide the good from a person (arel), to act as an enemy by encouraging evil behaviors. Furthermore, even someone who tries to avoid it by casting it aside will find himself stumbling over it (mikhshol) in the form of a difficult to remove (even) temptation that is hard to even locate in order to avoid it, since it is hidden (tzafun) deeply in one's heart. The Gemara also introduces us to a passage in Zekhariah (12:12) that describes a eulogy that is attended by all the people of the land. According to one opinion, this is the funeral of the yetzer ha-ra in the next world. At that time it will appear before the righteous as a huge mountain, which leads them to lament, "how could we have overcome this great mountain," and before the sinners as a strand of hair, leading them to lament, "it would have been so easy to overcome this thin strand of hair." Why does the yetzer ha-ra appear differently to different groups of people? The Ri"af suggests that, as time passes, the yetzer ha-ra grows larger and larger. The sinners who trip up right away cannot comprehend how they were felled by something so small. The righteous, who withstand temptation, see it as a huge obstacle that they still managed to overcome.
Sukka 51a-b: The Return to Egypt
27/08/2021 - 19th of Elul, 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  states: Anyone who has not seen the simhat bet ha-sho'eva - the joyousness of the water libation ceremony - has not seen true joy in their lifetime. [caption id="attachment_9297" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Celebration in the Temple wtih poles and basins in the background Celebration in the Temple wtih poles and basins in the background[/caption] The Mishna describes how the Sages would sing songs and juggle torches, accompanied by an orchestra of levi'im, all to the light of large candelabra, which were large bowls of oil lit by the young kohanim who climbed ladders to do so. Another impressive sight described by the baraita was the great synagogue in Alexandria, Egypt, which held double 600,000 people (the number 600,000 is significant because it was the number of people who left Egypt to come to Israel). The synagogue was so large that someone was appointed by the congregants to stand on a wooden platform in the middle and wave a flag so that everyone would know when it was time to respond "Amen" to the hazzan. Furthermore, every guild had its own section in the synagogue so that when a stranger would come, he could find his fellow tradesmen who would help support him and his family. With this grand introduction, the Gemara concludes by quoting Abaye, who says that this entire community was destroyed by Alexander Mokdon because of their disregard for the passage forbidding Jews to return to Egypt (see Devarim 17:16). In the Jerusalem Talmud, Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai is quoted as saying that the prohibition against returning to Egypt appears three times in the Torah, and when Jews returned for the third time, their fate was sealed. The Maharsha connects this with the story at the end of Sefer Yirmiyahu, where the prophet not only forbids the people from leaving Israel and going to Egypt, but also tells them that if they choose to return they will be killed by sword, starvation and disease (Yirmiyahu 42:17). It should be noted that Alexander Mokdon cannot possibly be the general who wiped out the Jewish community in Alexandria, something already pointed out by the rishonim. The story apparently refers to the Roman Caesar Targenos (Trajan), who put down a Jewish rebellion against Rome about 60 years after the destruction of the Second Temple.
Sukka 50a-b: Joyous Celebration on Sukkot
26/08/2021 - 18th of Elul, 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
Although there is a mitzva of simha - joyous celebration - on all of the pilgrimage holidays - the shalosh regalim - there is a unique emphasis on this aspect of the holiday on Sukkot. In order to fulfill this mitzva, a number of special activities were instituted in The Temple: more music was played, a system of unusual torches was lit up, and the physical set-up of the grounds of the mikdash was changed to accommodate the large number of revelers in a safe and protected manner. The fifth perek of Massekhet Sukka, which begins on our daf, focuses on these matters. The first Mishna teaches the rule of the halil - the flute played during these festivities - which could not be used as part of the celebrations on Shabbat or Yom Tov. (Although the Mishna mentions the halil specifically, there was an entire orchestra of instruments. The halil is focused on because, according to the Rambam, it was the most important instrument, or because, according to the Bartenura, it was the one that was heard most clearly.)
It was stated that Rav Yehuda and Rav Eina disagreed: One of them teaches that the celebration was called the Celebration of Drawing [sho'eva] and one of them teaches that it was called the significant [hashuva] celebration. Mar Zutra said: The one who taught sho'eva is not mistaken, and the one who taught hashuva is not mistaken. The one who taught sho'eva is not mistaken, as it is written: "And you shall draw [ushavtem] water with joy from the wells of salvation" (Yeshayahu 12:3), and its name reflects the fact that it is a celebration of the water libation. And the one who taught hashuva is not mistaken, as Rav Nahman said: It is a significant mitzva and it originated from the six days of Creation.
This difficult statement is explained by Rashi as referring to the shittin, which, as we learned on the last daf, are thought to have existed since the time of creation. Others suggest that this is connected with a midrash that describes how disturbed the lower waters were when they were separated from the upper waters on the second day of creation (see Bereshit 1:6-8). According to the midrash, God promises them that they will be raised up to similar heights through the water libation, which is why nisukh ha-mayim is related to the creation of the world.
Sukka 49a-b: Down the Drain
25/08/2021 - 17th of Elul, 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 previous daf we learned about the two bowls [caption id="attachment_9273" align="alignleft" width="300"]Replica of libation basin Replica of libation basin[/caption] - sefalim - that drained into the foundation of the Temple. Rabba bar bar Ḥana quotes Rabbi Yohanan as interpreting a passage in Shir ha-Shirim (7:2) as teaching that these drains - shittin - existed from the time of creation. The rishonim and aharonim point out that it is difficult to reconcile Rabbi Yohanan's teaching that the shittin are part of God's creation with a statement made by him later on in the Gemara that describes King David as having them dug. Many answers are given to this question - e.g. that they were closed up at some point and that King David reopened them, or that Rabbi Yohanan is presenting the opinions of two different tanna'im. The Maharsha explains simply that the term shittin refers to different things. In our discussion they are the pipes through which the wine and water that are spilled on the altar drain down into the Kidron Valley; in the later statement the shittin (or shattot) are the foundation of the altar itself. Rabbi Yosei interprets a passage in Sefer Yeshayahu (5:1-2) as meaning that these passages led down into the depths of the earth. The Ge'onim quote a tradition that the shittin were an amah in width and 600 amot deep.
It was taught in a baraita that Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok said: There was a small gap between the ramp and the altar west of the ramp, and once in seventy years young priests would descend there and gather from there the congealed wine left over from the libations that set over time, which resembled round cakes of dried and pressed figs. They would then come and burn it in sanctity in the Temple courtyard, as it is stated: "In sanctity shall you pour a libation of strong drink unto the Lord" (Bamidbar 28:7); just as its pouring is in sanctity, so too must its burning be in sanctity.
The Me'iri explains this to mean that the kohanim did not actually go down to the very bottom, but that they would clean as deep as they could using implements that were available to them.
Sukka 48a-b: Water Libations
24/08/2021 - 16th of Elul, 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 describes the nisukh ha-mayim -the water libation on Sukkot - which was done together with the daily tamid in the morning. Water was brought from the Shiloah spring up to the Temple with great fanfare.
[caption id="attachment_9273" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Replica of libation basin Replica of libation basin[/caption] One would fill a golden jug with a capacity of three log with water from the Siloam pool. When those who went to bring the water reached the Gate of the Water, so called because the water for the libation was brought through this gate leading to the Temple courtyard, they sounded a tekia, sounded a terua, and sounded another tekia as an expression of joy. The priest ascended the ramp of the altar and turned to his left. There were two silver basins - there into which he poured the water...And the appointee says to the one pouring the water into the silver basin: Raise your hand, so that his actions would be visible, as one time a Sadducee priest intentionally poured the water on his feet, as the Sadducees did not accept the oral tradition requiring water libation, and in their rage all the people pelted him with 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 at great length by Josephus. According to him, the individual who poured the water on his feet rather than on the altar was the 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..
Sukka 47a-b: The Eighth Day of Sukkot
23/08/2021 - 15th of Elul, 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 Land of Israel, the holiday of Sukkot is seven days long and the "eighth day" of the holiday is Shemini Atzeret, which is a separate holiday, as indicated by the fact that it does not have the mitzvot of lulav, of sukka or of the water libation. The situation outside of Israel is more complicated, since during the time of the Mishna when the announcement of the new month was made by the Beit Din HaGadol in Jerusalem, it was sent by messenger. Therefore, places outside of Israel could not be sure when the holiday actually began, and because of this uncertainty, they kept two days of Yom Tov. Diaspora communities continue keeping this tradition to this day, even though we now operate with a set calendar and all communities know when the new month and the holidays fall out based on the calendar. Based on this, the "eighth day of Sukkot" presents something of a problem. Should we treat it as a separate holiday or is it still considered part of Sukkot? Two versions of a disagreement between Rav and Rabbi Yohanan are presented by the Gemara. According to the first version, all agree that Diaspora Jews are obligated to sit in the sukka on the eighth day; the disagreement is whether they make a blessing on the mitzva of sukka. According to the second version, everyone agrees that a blessing is not made on the sukka; the disagreement is whether people should be sitting in the sukka on that day at all. The Sefat Emet explains that all opinions in the first version assume that there cannot be any problem with sitting in the sukka. Even the concern of bal tosif – that a person is not allowed to add to the mitzvot of the Torah – does not apply in this case, because no clear act of mitzva is being done in this case. Therefore you cannot lose anything by sitting there. This may help explain why none of the amora'im suggest that we should continue taking the lulav and etrog on the eighth day in the Diaspora. The Ran adds that as we have learned, taking the lulav and etrog after the first day of Sukkot is a Rabbinic obligation, and there is no reason to extend that Rabbinic obligation to a day that is, itself, considered Sukkot only from a Rabbinic perspective. The rishonim grapple with the second version, however. Why should one of the amora'im rule that we not be obligated to sit in the sukka on a day that might be considered Sukkot? The Ran and the Ritva explain that this is only true because of the present day situation when we really do know the correct day of the holiday, and the people in the Diaspora keep two days of Yom Tov only out of respect for the traditions of their forefathers. Thus there is room to be lenient when the two holidays would end up in conflict with one-another.