Month: August 2020

Eruvin 22

Today’s daf (Eruvin 22a) contains a Mishna (2:4) wherein Rabbi Yehuda and the Chachamim (Sages) debate whether the unique private enclosure created by affixing four right-angled posts – known as פסי ביראות – around a public well to enable pilgrims to feed their animals as they journeyed to and from Jerusalem, is halachically undermined if…

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Eruvin 21

In contrast to the various detailed discussions about the finite physical boundaries of different types of Eruvin, today’s daf (Eruvin 21a) includes an exquisite teaching – quoted by Rav Chisda in the name of Mari bar Mar – about the sheer vastness of Torah.The teaching begins by citing a verse from Tehillim 119:96 stating, “I…

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Eruvin 20

We were previously taught in the Mishna (Eruvin 2:2, 17b) about the enclosure created by affixing four right-angled posts around a public well to enable pilgrims to feed their animals as they journeyed to and from Jerusalem, and as the Mishna explained, this enclosure had to be sufficiently large to enable the head and most…

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Eruvin 19

There are times when the Halachic and Aggadic masters of the Gemara teach ideas and laws that are clearly understandable, while there are other times when we encounter veiled and cryptic teachings which we – as the learner – are then invited to explore what their possible meanings may be.A good example of this is…

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Eruvin 18

Among the many fascinating lessons found in today’s daf (Eruvin 18b) are a series of teachings from Rabbi Yirmiyah Ben Elazar – one of which I had known for quite some time, but until today, had completely misunderstood.This specific teaching – which, it should be noted, is regularly referenced when introducing a guest of honour…

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Eruvin 17

Like most people, one of my greatest fears is being alone and in need of assistance – yet when I call out to others to come and help me, they do not hear me and they do not come.I mention this in connection to today’s daf (Eruvin 17a) where we are taught in a Beraita…

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Eruvin 16

Much of today’s daf (Eruvin 16a-b) discusses the various ways in which partitions (מחיצות) can be constructed to create halachic boundaries and to thereby enable carrying on Shabbat.Having already discussed a variety of such examples, our Gemara cites a Tosefta from Massechet Kilayim (4:2-3) which categorises the various different halachic partitions into three groups –…

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Eruvin 15

Much of today’s daf (Eruvin 15a) addresses a disagreement between Abaye and Rava concerning a לחי (sidepost) found at the side of a מבוי (an alleyway coming off a public domain and leading to a residential area) which was not initially placed there to halachically function as a לחי. According to Abaye, הוי לחי –…

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Eruvin 14

There is a fascinating contrast found in today’s daf (Eruvin 14a-b) which speaks volumes about a tension within – as well as the ingredients of – the halachic system. For almost all of today’s daf we are taught about the halachically required physical properties of a קורה (crossbeam) – such as how wide it must…

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Eruvin 13

While there are certain dapim (pages) in the Gemara that, on first glance, seemingly contain a variety of disjointed themes, it is often the case that, upon closer examination, a unifying theme is found that connects the many different teachings and incidents being discussed.A case in point is today’s daf (Eruvin 13a-b) which begins by…

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Eruvin 12

Today’s daf (Eruvin 12a) tells us about an incident that occurred in a shepherds’ village, where an inlet of the sea breached the outer wall of the courtyard (חצר) of the village leaving that side of the courtyard entirely open to the sea which meant that the residents of the village would no longer be…

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Eruvin 11

Today’s daf (Eruvin 11a-b) discusses the צורת הפתח (‘a form of a doorway’ – consisting of two vertical sideposts [לחי], on which sits a horizontal beam, pole or twine [קורה], to create ‘a form of a doorway’) which operates as a substantive halachic boundary such that an opening with a צורת הפתח is considered to…

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Eruvin 10

 We have previously discussed how a קורה (crossbeam) or a לחי (sidepost) placed at the entrace of a מבוי enable carrying in the מבוי. However, as should be clear from the ongoing Talmudic discussion, while a קורה and a לחי must have certain physical properties, their function is primarily symbolic, and thus the first teaching…

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Eruvin 9

In addition to my belief that rich Jewish values can be found in nuanced halachic details, I also believe that halachic writings are deeply spiritual texts which are even, on occasion, profoundly poetic – and a case in point is an exquisite phrase found twice in today’s daf (Eruvin 9a).In terms of the nuanced halachic…

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Eruvin 8

One of the great fascinations of the Rabbis of the Talmud were threshholds and boundaries in space and time, and in today’s daf (Eruvin 8b) we encounter a lengthy discussion about the liminal space immediately below a קורה (crossbeam) at the entrance of a מבוי (an alleyway coming off a public domain and leading to…

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Eruvin 7

Yesterday, in the Torah reading of Parshat Re’eh (Devarim 13:15), we encountered a fascinating phrase which appears once again in the Torah reading of Parshat Shoftim (Devarim 17:4) that we will be reading next Shabbat.In both instances, the verses are describing the task of a judge to verify a matter of legal weight, and in…

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Eruvin 6

Today’s daf (Eruvin 6a-b) is one of the most fundamental throughout Massechet Eruvin in outlining the principles and details necessary for the contemporary eruvin that surround various cities around the world:“Our Rabbis taught [in a Beraita]: How do we create an eruv [and therefore halachically privatise] a street of the public domain (רשות הרבים)? [The…

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Eruvin 5

We have previously explained that a קורה (cross-beam) can be placed across the entrance of a מבוי (an alleyway adjoining a public domain and leading to a residential area which, though an area where carrying is permitted on Shabbat according to biblical law, was decided by our rabbis to be an area where carrying is…

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Eruvin 4

Kohelet 4:12 famously states that ‘a three- stranded cord will not quickly be broken’ – which is understood to teach us that a three-stranded cord has a level of strength far exceeding a single or two-stranded cord.However, in todays daf (Eruvin 4b) we seem to encounter a quite different message. While we are told that…

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Eruvin 3

In yesterday’s daf (Eruvin 2a) we contrasted the law of the מבוי with the law of the Sukkah, and in today’s daf (Eruvin 3a) we continue this discussion and are taught by Rabbah that while a קורה crossbeam (which bridges and thereby ‘closes’ the opening of a מבוי to a public domain) that is positioned…

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Eruvin 2

The opening line of the first Mishna of Massechet Eruvin (Eruvin 1:1, 2a) informs us that an קורה (cross-beam), which has been placed across the entrance of a מבוי (an alleyway coming off a public domain and leading to a residential area) to permit carrying in that area at a height greater than 20 amot…

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Shabbat 157

 Today, after 157 days, we reach the final page of Shabbat, and with this, the final lines of this Massechet close with reference to the rabbinic decree against measuring on Shabbat as well as the exemption, as noted in the Mishna (Shabbat 24:5, 157a), that water may be measured on Shabbat for the sake of…

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Shabbat 156

 Today’s daf (Shabbat 156), which is the penultimate page of Massechet Shabbat, primarily focusses on two quite different themes: i) A brief analysis of the laws of kneading on Shabbat, and ii) A lengthy discussion about the concept of ‘Mazal’ (i.e. the extent to which the day or time or month that a person is…

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Shabbat 155

In today’s daf (Shabbat 155b) we are told that Rabbi Yona shared a biblical exposition at the entrance of the house of the Nasi.Basing himself on the words of Mishlei 29:7 stating that ‘the righteous one knows the status of the poor’, Rabbi Yona interpreted the phrase ‘the righteous one’ to refer to God and…

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Shabbat 154

In yesterday’s Mishna (Shabbat 24:1, 153a) we were taught that if someone arrives at a city once Shabbat has commenced, they may directly remove any non-mukzeh items from their donkey. However, if their donkey is carrying any bags of mukzeh items, these can only be indirectly removed from the donkey by releasing the ropes that…

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Shabbat 153

Having already spent much of the past few pages presenting various philosophical teachings relating to the preciousness of life and how to lead a good life based on the wisdom of Kohelet and Mishlei, today’s daf (Shabbat 153a), which contains the final lines of Chapter 23 of Massechet Shabbat, are dedicated to exploring the meaning…

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Shabbat 152

This morning I will be delivering my penultimate shiur on Sefer Mishlei (The Book of Proverbs) to a fabulous and incredibly learned group of women. Yet, notwithstanding the significant Jewish learning accomplishments of many of those in the shiur, most of the participants would admit that this year has been the first time that they…

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Shabbat 151

While much of today’s daf (Shabbat 151b) considers the halachot pertaining to what may and may not be done for the dead on Shabbat, it also includes various philosophical teachings relating to the preciousness of life and our need to maximise the opportunities that we have in life to do good and to help others.…

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Shabbat 150

Today’s daf (Shabbat 150a) explores the halachic implications of the verse ממצוא חפצך ודבר דבר – “[Refrain] from pursuing your business [on Shabbat] and [from] speaking words [about non-Shabbat] issues [on Shabbat]” (Yeshaya 58:13), and it lists a range of topics that may and may not be spoken about on Shabbat. However, before proceeding to…

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Shabbat 149

Much of the 23rd Chapter of Massechet Shabbat concerns permitted and forbidden actions and expressions that may lead to, or that appear similar to, financial dealings on Shabbat, and in this spirit the Mishna at the end of yesterday’s daf (23:2, 148b) – which is discussed at length in today’s daf (Shabbat 149b) – teaches…

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Shabbat 148

In today’s daf (Shabbat 148b), reference is made to the rabbinic decree, originally stated in Mishna Beitzah (5:2, 36b), that one may not clap hands together, clap one’s body (thigh/chest), or dance on Shabbat and Yom Tov.Interestingly, though all three of these practices are generally assumed to be forbidden on account of the concern that…

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Shabbat 147

Having made reference to the exceptional wine that was produced in Phrygia (a small kingdom in Asia Minor), along with the unique therapeutic powers of the waters of the river Deyomset (found near the Judean city of Emmaus), today’s daf (Shabbat 147b) informs us that Rabbi Elazar ben Arakh travelled [alone] to Phrygia where he…

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