Day: December 4, 2020

Pesachim 13

 A major idea in Judaism, one that I particularly focus on in my (upcoming) book on the Shehecheyanu blessing and which is concretized in a variety of halachot, is that to be religious is not to dismiss the physical (as some of my former high school teachers would do by speaking about the physical and…

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Pesachim 12

Today’s daf (Pesachim 12) discusses time-precision in halacha, and the extent to which margins of error are or are not permitted in terms of witnesses testifying in a court, or the disposal of chametz prior to Pesach. Yet on first glance, this comparison is exceedingly hard to comprehend, because what does the laws of disposal…

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Pesachim 11

In today’s daf (Pesachim 11a-b) we are taught that אדם בהול על ממונו – ‘a person is in turmoil about their money/income’, and given this observation, the Sages – both in our daf and elsewhere – debate the extent to which halachic latitude should be given to people in financial straits. As the Encyclopedia Talmudit…

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Pesachim 10

Today’s daf (Pesachim 10a-b) expends much time discussing the laws of searching for chametz and specifically, the chance that mice (and by implication, other animals and also children) may find, move or remove chametz in a home. This is why, having searched the house for chametz and successfully found chametz, the Mishna (Pesachim 1:3, 10b)…

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Pesachim 9

In today’s daf (Pesachim 9a), we consider the case where chametz has certainly entered a property but may possibly have been destroyed or removed. In such a situation, does the doubt surrounding the possible status and location of the chametz mean that it is now no longer certain that there is chametz in the property?…

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Pesachim 8

Today’s daf (Pesachim 8a) invokes one of the most fascinating yet misunderstood principles relating to mitzvah performance, namely שלוחי מצוה אינן ניזוקין – ‘those on a mission to perform a mitzvah are not harmed’. In terms of the daf, this principle is invoked in response to a Beraita which teaches that someone need not check…

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Pesachim 7

Much of today’s daf (Pesachim 7a-b) explores the various formulae used in the brachot that we recite, beginning with the question of whether the bracha recited upon searching for chametz should be לבער חמץ (to remove chametz), or על ביעור חמץ (on the removal of chametz). In fact, as the Gemara continues, it is clear…

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Pesachim 6

‘It was taught in a baraita: One asks about and teaches the halachot of Pesach thirty days before Pesach’ (Pesachim 6a). This teaching, for which the Rabbis of the Talmud find biblical support in the fact that ‘Moshe was standing at the time of the first Pesach, on the fourteenth of Nisan, and warning the…

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Pesachim 5

Today’s daf (Pesachim 5a) contains a cryptic aggadic teaching which, upon first glance, seems almost impossible to make sense of. However, having pondered the teaching, and then drawn inspiration from the explanations offered by various commentaries including the Torah Temimah (on Bereishit 25:25), I would like to offer my thoughts. The teaching, which originated from…

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Pesachim 4

Today’s daf (Pesachim 4a) draws a comparison between the laws of בדיקת חמץ (searching for chametz) in a rented home, and the laws of קביעת מזוזה (affixing a mezuzah on the doorposts) of a rented home which, together, point to a wider Jewish ethic concerning human responsibility. In terms of בדיקת חמץ in a newly…

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Pesachim 3

Much of today’s daf (Pesachim 3a-b) is dedicated to the topic of using refined language, and by citing Bereishit 7:8 as an example, Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi demonstrates how the Torah goes out of its way (i.e. it uses more letters and words) to use refined language by referring to certain animals as איננה טהורה…

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Eruvin 105

  Dear friends, Over the past 104 days we have studied Massechet Eruvin. During this period, we have examined the relationship between the sacred time of Shabbat and the physical spaces in which we are allowed to carry or walk on Shabbat – and what can be done to one in order to enrich the…

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Eruvin 104

Having reached the penultimate daf of Massechet Eruvin (nb. I hope to share something special tomorrow to celebrate our completion), I am drawn to the Mishna in today’s daf (Eruvin 10:14, 104a) which states that ‘one may break up salt [and scatter it] on the ramp [of the Altar in the Temple], so that [the…

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Eruvin 103

Sometimes you can read a text in one way, while nevertheless feeling that there is more to it than meets the eye. Then, you can encounter a different reading to this same text, and subsequently reach an altogether different understanding of what is going on. This is precisely what happened to me last night when…

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