Author: Johnny

Nazir 30

The Mishna (Nazir 5:3) in today’s daf (Nazir 31b) addresses the situation of someone who vowed to be a Nazir, but drank wine in violation of their vow, and then sought a Sage to revoke their vow by claiming that when they made their Nazirite vow they did not use the words that would have…

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Reclaiming Dignity: A Guide to Tzniut for Men and Women

Review of ‘Reclaiming Dignity’ by Rabbi Johnny The fact that ‘Reclaiming Dignity’ has already sold out (yes, they are printing more!) already says much about this new ‘Guide to Tzniut for Men and Women’, published by Mosaica Press. But what makes ‘Reclaiming Dignity’ unique? Before even delving into the specific details and nuanced insights found…

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Nazir 30

The question addressed in today’s daf (Nazir 30b) is whether the Nezirut fund of a father (i.e. funds that a father has set aside to pay for the sacrifices he needs to bring upon conclusion of his Nezirut), which a child inherits (after the death of the father and in a situation where the child…

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Nazir 29

Today’s daf (Nazir 29a) discusses the question of whether a parent who is a Nazir is obligated to educate their child in the ways of Nezirut. And in this spirit, I would like to offer some reflections on Rav David Cohen (1887-1972) and his son, Rav Shear Yashuv Cohen (1927-2016).Notwithstanding his title as ‘HaRav HaNazir’,…

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Nazir 28

Once every while a discussion arises about the way in which modern sheitel’s look like natural hair. And the reason for me mentioning this is because this and other associated topics are addressed by various commentaries associated with today’s daf (Nazir 28b).To give some context, an element of the end-of-Nezirut ritual includes shaving one’s head…

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Nazir 27

A phrase is used in today’s daf (Nazir 27b) that is both true and false at once: דְּמֵי הַיְינוּ מָעוֹת – ‘value is money’.In terms of the context of its usage in our daf, what is being discussed is the status of a blemished animal that cannot be brought as a sacrifice. Consequently, its value…

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Nazir 26

Today’s daf (Nazir 26a) informs us that if someone set aside funds for a chatat (sin) and olah (burnt) bird sacrifice, then that money can be used for an ‘upgraded’ animal (chatat) sacrifice. Additionally, we are also taught that if that person dies, the money should be used for voluntary (נְדָבָה – ‘nedava’) communal sacrifices.…

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Nazir 25

What is the difference between a נֶדֶר (neder) offering and a נְדָבָה (nedava) offering? On first glance this may simply seem like a question of semantics, but its answer is needed to understand the analysis in today’s daf (Nazir 25a) of Vayikra 22:18 from which we learn that מוֹתַר נֶדֶר יְהֵא לִנְדָבָה – the surplus…

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Nazir 24

I recently met a woman who is 72 years old and who is working tirelessly at a labor intensive job. And when I asked why, she explained that she’d been married to a gambler whose gambling behaviour cost her marriage, and whose debts cost her home. Consequently, she is now working hard so that when…

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Nazir 23

One of the most startling teachings from throughout the Talmud is found in today’s daf (Nazir 23b) where we read the statement of Rav Nachman Bar Yitzchak that גְּדוֹלָה עֲבֵירָה לִשְׁמָהּ מִמִּצְוָה שֶׁלֹּא לִשְׁמָהּ – ‘greater is an aveirah lishma (for the sake of heaven) than a mitzvah that is not lishma’ – which is…

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Nazir 22

An expression is used in today’s daf (Nazir 22b) which is not found anywhere else either in Massechet Nazir or, in fact, throughout the rest of the Talmud. Specifically, the word is בְּעִיקְבֵיךְ (which is generally translated as ‘in your footsteps’, although it could literally be translated as ‘in your heels’), and it is used…

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Nazir 21

A topic addressed in today’s daf (Nazir 21b) concerns a situation where a woman declares “I am hereby a Nezirah” and her husband responds by saying “and I”.To be clear, both this scenario, as well as its inverse (where a husband declares “I am hereby a Nazir” and his wife responds “and I”), were previously…

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Nazir 20

What happens if you say something and wish to change your mind? Or you recite an incorrect bracha and wish to say the correct words? Or you wish to exclaim וַאֲנִי – “and me!” in response to what someone else has said? In each instance halacha grants a short window of time – known as…

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Nazir 19

A few days ago I read an article (see http://bit.ly/3DZPKBI) summarizing a recent study (see http://bit.ly/3XnSTSL) about the enormous sacrifices that female orcas make for their sons. This study, exploring what is known as ‘parental investment’, shed’s light on a phenomenon whose scale has only recently been understood following a 20-year research project. And having…

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Nazir 18

The Torah (Bemidbar 6:11) informs us that if a Nazir is in contact with the dead, then – as we are taught in greater detail in today’s daf (Nazir 18a) – having counted a week, undergone a purification ceremony (including cutting their hair), and brought a sacrifice, the Nazir ‘shall consecrate their head anew’ (וְקִדַּשׁ…

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Nazir 17

The halachic question addressed in today’s daf (Nazir 17a) relates to שְׁהִיָּיה – ‘remaining’ (or, as some translate, ‘lingering’). This is because one of the prohibitions that apply to a Nazir is that they may not be in contact with the dead and thus may not enter a cemetery. Given this, if a Nazir does…

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Nazir 16

The Mishna (Nazir 3:7) in today’s daf (Nazir 16b) discusses a situation where someone commits to being a Nazir while there are in a cemetery. The problem with this is that among the prohibitions that apply to a Nazir is that they are forbidden to be in contact with the dead (see Bemidbar 6:6). Given…

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Nazir 15

When detailing the laws of the Nazir, the Torah informs us that the prohibition to drink wine (which, given the context of this statement is then understood to refer to all the Nazirite prohibitions – see Nazir 14b) applies to כֹּל יְמֵי נִזְרוֹ – ‘all the days of being a Nazir’ (Bemidbar 6:4). As the…

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Nazir 14

Sometimes we only find out about certain people after they die. But then, when we hear stories about them from their family, friends or students, we realize that there had been a giant in our midst and we didn’t know about it.This was how I felt when I read the many tributes about Rabbi Moshe…

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Nazir 13

The Mishna (Nazir 2:7) cited at the end of yesterday’s daf (Nazir 12b), which serves as a springboard for much of the discussion in today’s daf (Nazir 13a), describes a situation where a man or woman proclaims that they will become a Nazir when a child is born to them.To be clear, the circumstances surrounding…

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Nazir 12

The focus of much of today’s daf (Nazir 12b) is the halachic concept of שְׁלִיחוּת – meaning the appointing of someone as an agent to fulfil a particular task or mitzvah. And as a result of the Gemara’s detailed discussion we are then taught a general rule about the mechanics of שְׁלִיחוּת that: לָא מְשַׁוֵּי…

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Nazir 11

he Mishna (Nazir 2:4) in today’s daf (Nazir 11a) addresses a situation where someone declares: הֲרֵינִי נָזִיר עַל מְנָת שֶׁאֱהֵא שׁוֹתֶה יַיִן וּמִיטַּמֵּא לְמֵתִים – “Behold, I am Nazir on condition that I can drink wine or [on condition that I can] become spiritually impure through contact with the dead”, to which the Mishna responds…

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Nazir 10

Having arrived home last night after a busy and wonderful trip in the States – with my final talk taking place in Lawrence where I met some incredible women and men – this morning I woke up particularly early so I could learn the daf, consider what idea I may wish to draw from it,…

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Nazir 8

The final words of the Mishna (Nazir 1:7) in today’s daf (Nazir 8a) raise an important question about finding the right balance between religious practices and personal health. Specifically, we are told that if someone says הריני נזיר כמנין ימות החמה – ‘I am hereby a Nazir according to the number of days of the…

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Nazir 7

The Mishna (Nazir 1:3) in today’s daf (Nazir 7b) informs us that if someone made a vow to become a Nazir for thirty days and one hour, they are required to observe the laws of Nezirut for thirty-one days because אֵין נְזִירוּת לְשָׁעוֹת – the measure of time-bound commitment by a Nazir is according to…

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Nazir 6

 Much of today’s daf (Nazir 6a-b) focuses its attention on the application of מִקְצָת הַיּוֹם כְּכוּלּוֹ (literally, ‘part of the day is like the whole day’) which is a halachic concept that is invoked by our Sages when discussing a variety of observances such as Nazir and, in particular, the laws of mourning when mourners…

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Nazir 5

The Mishna (Nazir 1:3) informs us that the standard period of time for being a Nazir is 30 days – which then prompts the Gemara (Nazir 5a) to ask for some biblical evidence for this fact. In response, Rav Matna asserts that this rule is derived from the gematria of the word יִהְיֶה (whose numerical…

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Nazir 4

Unfortunately we live in a generation that is rife with cynicism, and especially when it comes to observing others practicing specific religious strictures, we are oftentimes very quick to presume that they have some form of ‘agenda’ or that there are doing so for appearance sake alone.We are told in today’s daf (Nazir 4b) how…

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Nazir 3

Rather than beginning with a presentation of the laws of Nezirut, Massechet Nazir begins by discussing the verbal formulae that renders someone a Nazir, and just as various vows take effect even when abridged terms are used by the person making the vow, so too, there are abridged terms that, when said in a given…

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Nazir 2

Some weeks ago I read an interesting insight in Rabbi Ephraim Oved’s Torat HaAggadah about the terms used for various Massechot. Specifically, why are certain Massechtot given pluralized titles (eg. Ketubot, Nedarim), while other Massechtot are given singular titles (eg. Nazir, Sotah)?Rabbi Oved answers this question by explaining that when the title is pluralized, it…

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Nedarim 91

Today those studying daf yomi complete their study of Massechet Nedarim.Over the past three months, our study of Nedarim has demanded that we learn about a vast range of various vows and the variety of ways to revoke (הפרה) or annul (ביטול) vows that have been made.In fact, given that Nedarim places such an emphasis…

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Nedarim 90

The Mishna (Nedarim 11:12) that is quoted and discussed in today’s daf (Nedarim 90b), the penultimate daf in our Massechet, informs us that if a married woman says to her husband: הַשָּׁמַיִם בֵּינִי לְבֵינָךְ – ‘Heaven is between me and you’, then יַעֲשׂוּ דֶּרֶךְ בַּקָּשָׁה – ‘they should deal with the matter by way of…

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Nedarim 89

We are told a story at the end of today’s daf (Nedarim 89b) about someone who made a vow that he would not get married until he completes his study of ‘halakha’ (which, as Tosfot explains, is to be understood in this context as referring to the study of the six orders of the Mishna).…

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Nedarim 88

The Mishna (Nedarim 11:8) quoted in today’s daf (Nedarim 88a) addresses the topic of strained relationships between parents-in-law and a son-in-law. Specifically, we are taught that: ‘if a parent-in-law makes a vow that their son-in-law may not derive any benefit from them, but nevertheless wishes to give some money to their daughter, they should proclaim…

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Nedarim 87

Today’s daf (Nedarim 87a) quotes a fascinating Beraita which teaches us that, ‘someone who has a relative who is ill who then faints (וְנִתְעַלֵּף) which gives the impression that they have died, and who tears ‘kriah’ [on their clothes] for them because they believed their relative has died, and then [some time later], realizes that…

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Nedarim 86

Today’s daf (Nedarim 86b) explores the relationship between the promise made by someone to donate an item or items for use in the Beit HaMikdash, and the sanctity accrued by those items as a result of that commitment.Admittedly, as various commentaries explain, not every item donated to the Beit HaMikdash necessarily accrues the same level…

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Nedarim 85

Today’s daf (Nedarim 85a) discusses the topic of טובת הנאה ממון – literally ‘whether the benefit of doing good is quantifiable in monetary terms’ – which is a concept associated with the gifts and tithes that one gives to Kohanim and, specifically, to the question of whether one’s ability to choose which particular Kohen should…

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Nedarim 84

I’d like to summarise the Mishna (Nedarim 11:3) in yesterday’s daf (Nedarim 83b) because understanding what was said there will help us understand the discussion found in today’s daf (Nedarim 84a-b).We are taught: ‘[If a woman vowed]: “That which I benefit of other people is konam for me”, then [her husband] cannot nullify her vow.…

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Nedarim 83

Today’s daf (Nedarim 83b) references Kohelet 7:2 which teaches us that, ‘[it is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting; for that is the end of all man], and the living should take it to heart (וְהַחַי יִתֵּן אֶל לִבּוֹ)’.Based on the final words of this…

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Nedarim 82

 Sometimes all it takes are a few extra words to change the meaning of a statement. Both yesterday (Nedarim 81b) and today’s daf (Nedarim 82a) cites the words of a later Mishna (Nedarim 11:12, 90b) which speaks of a married woman who makes a vow that: נְטוּלָה אֲנִי מִן הַיְּהוּדִים – literally, ‘I am removed…

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Nedarim 81

Today’s daf (Nedarim 81a) delineates five contributory factors which are apparently part of the divine ‘calculations’ and ‘considerations’ as to why Torah scholars oftentimes find that their children don’t assume the same level of passion and competence for Torah study as themselves.But before I address these calculations and considerations, it is essential to emphasise that…

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Nedarim 80

 Today’s daf (Nedarim 80b) contains a case which has been applied to various Triage situations. And to explain, I’d like to quote from Rabbi Dr. Akiva Tatz’s ‘Dangerous Disease & Dangerous Therapy in Jewish Medical Ethics: Principles and Practice’ (p. 172):‘The Talmud discusses the situation of a town with a water source that is sufficient…

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Nedarim 79

Today’s daf (Nedarim 79a-b) discusses the ways in which behaviours within the category of עִנּוּי נֶפֶשׁ (self-affliction) can affect our relationships. In fact, it is precisely because such behaviours can have such a negative impact that our Sages grant a license for a husband to revoke vows that his wife makes relating to עִנּוּי נֶפֶשׁ…

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Nedarim 78

 Much of today’s daf (Nedarim 78a) draws on the various interpretations ascribed to the expression זֶה הַדָּבָר – ‘this is the word’ (Bemidbar 30:2) – which is how the Torah introduces the laws of vows and oaths. And among other things, our daf quotes a Beraita noting how this same expression of זֶה הַדָּבָר is…

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Nedarim 77

As we know, a major focus of Massechet Nedarim is language. Yet as we also know, language can be both explicit and implicit, and rather than just referring to what is being communicated through words, it can also refer to what we communicate through gestures and body language.To explain, let us consider two examples found…

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Nedarim 76

  We are taught at the end of today’s daf (Nedarim 76b) that Chiya the son of Rav would shoot an arrow when people would come and seek the annulment of their vows.Clearly this seems like a strange thing to be doing while involved in the process of annulling vows. But as many of the commentaries…

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Nedarim 75

 Today’s daf (Nedarim 75b) informs us that we cannot revoke our own vows (שֶׁאֵין מֵיפֵר נִדְרֵי עַצְמוֹ). In fact, we are taught in Nedarim 81b that the words לֹא יַחֵל דְּבָרוֹ – ‘he shall not profane his word’ (Bemidbar 30:3) teach us that even a learned Torah Sage cannot dissolve his own vows (מִכָּאן לְחָכָם…

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Nedarim 74

The final words of today’s daf (Nedarim 74b) touch on a topic that I’ve often emphasized, and that – as it so happens – is a topic that I stumbled upon in an essay that I read over Shabbat.To begin with the daf, having heard Rabbi Akiva present a thoughtful examination of the laws of…

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Nedarim 73

There is a fascinating rule stated in today’s daf (Nedarim 73b) which I believe provides a powerful lesson for all men who are about to be married or who are already married.Our Mishna (Nedarim 10:5) informs us that it was traditional for a previously unmarried woman to have a twelve-month delay between אירוסין (halachic engagement…

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Nedarim 72

Most of us have seen books, articles and videos where well-known authors, athletes, musicians, home-organisers, and models offer insights into their writing, training, practicing, organising and beauty rituals. And why might someone choose to read such books and articles or watch such videos? Because we view these people as experts, and we consider their advice…

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Nedarim 71

The Mishna (Nedarim 10:3) in today’s daf (Nedarim 71a) describes a scenario where a young woman, who we shall call Zahava, made a vow while halachically engaged to a man whom we shall call Yitzie (and where, it should be noted, the substance of Zahava’s vow made Yitzie and her father sufficiently uneasy that they…

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Nedarim 70

Before offering some thoughts on today’s daf I would like to reflect on today – the Fast of the 10th of Tevet – when we mourn the siege of Jerusalem which, as Rabbi Eliyahu Ki-Tov explains, was ‘the beginning of the whole chain of calamities which finally ended with the destruction of the [First] Beit…

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Nedarim 69

The question was raised in yesterday’s daf (Nedarim 68a) whether, when a husband of a young woman with whom he is halachically engaged (נערה המאורסה) revokes her vow (i.e. הפרת נדרים), does he cut her vow in half (מִיגָּז גָּיֵיז), or does he weaken her entire vow (מִקְלָישׁ קָלֵישׁ)?Interestingly, today’s daf (Nedarim 69a) informs us…

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Nedarim 68

Today’s daf (Nedarim 68a) discusses the laws of הפרת נדרים as they apply to an engaged young woman (נערה המאורסה) whose vows can only be revoked by the interventions of both her father and husband. But how does this concept differ from the laws of התרת נדרים that we’ve been discussing in the past few…

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Nedarim 67

Before delving into our daf it is important to acknowledge that the modern ear struggles to reconcile the laws ofהפרת נדרים , as recorded in Bemidbar 30:4-17, with our general attitudes towards equality – and this includes the topic addressed in the Mishna (Nedarim 10:1) in today’s daf (Nedarim 67a) where the vows of a…

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Nedarim 66

In my commentary on yesterday’s daf I emphasized the importance of fulfilling both mitzvot being adam l’makom and mitzvot bein adam lechaveiro. Then, in my class at Midreshet Lindenbaum on ‘The Thought of Rav Soloveitchik’, I quoted from his 1970 talk on the Asseret HaDibrot (as recorded in ‘The Rav’ Vol. 1 p. 196) where…

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Nedarim 65

Imagine the following situation: Yossi and Shimon are neighbours, and in response to a disagreement between them three weeks ago about where the property boundary is between their two houses, as agitated by where each of them would park their car, Yossi makes a vow which restricts him from giving any benefit to his neighbour…

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Nedarim 64

The theme of today’s daf (Nedarim 64a) is התרת נדרים, meaning ‘the annulment of vows’, with our Mishna (Nedarim 9:1) specifically focusing on the various situations that would justify the annulment of a vow.Interestingly, the Mishna uses the word פתח, meaning ‘opening’, to describe the justification given to annul a vow, and it describes a…

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Nedarim 63

What do you do when you have friends who won’t accept a gift from you? Well, as the Mishna (Nedarim 8:7) in today’s daf (Nedarim 63b) suggests, you may choose to make a vow to force your friend to accept your gift by saying: ‘Konam that which I will benefit from you if you do…

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Nedarim 62

Today’s daf (Nedarim 62a) quotes a powerful Beraita where Rabbi Eliezer the son of Rabbi Tzadok makes four powerful statements: ‘make these words [of the Torah] for the sake of their performance; and speak [the words of the Torah] for their own sake. Do not make [the words of Torah] as a crown (עטרה) to…

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Nedarim 61

Within its discussion about ambiguous vows, today’s daf (Nedarim 61a-b) posits that the debate between Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yossi in the previous Mishna (Nedarim 8:2, see Nedarim 60a) is based on the fact that Rabbi Meir is of the opinion that לָא מְעַיֵּיל אִינִישׁ נַפְשֵׁיהּ לִסְפֵיקָא – ‘a person does not intentionally place themselves…

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Nedarim 60

On a number of occasions in Massechet Nedarim (14a, 21b & in today’s daf 60a), we encounter the phrase שאלה לחכם – literally, ‘a question to a Sage’ – which refers to a situation when someone approaches a Sage to annul their vow. However, at least on first glance, this phrase seems mismatched with its…

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Nedarim 59

Today’s daf (Nedarim 59b) raises a question about the repetition of the word עַשֵּׂר (meaning ‘tithe’) in the verse: עַשֵּׂר תְּעַשֵּׂר אֵת כָּל תְּבוּאַת זַרְעֶךָ – ‘tithe, you shall tithe, all the produce of your seed’ (Devarim 14:22), and it answers (as explained by the Ran) that there are times when there is a duty…

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Nedarim 58

Last night I spoke with a spiritual-coaching client who was wrestling with a difficult decision. They already knew what they needed to do, but they were holding themselves back because their decision involved a ‘yerida letzorech aliyah’ – a short-term descent for the sake of a long-term ascent. Consequently, they sought my advice to help…

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Nedarim 57

When I learn daf yomi and other texts, I see my task as trying to understand both the content of the text and its context; both what is being taught in a text and what is going on in that text. Sometimes this is easily achieved. While other times it involves considerable investigation and the…

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Nedarim 56

The Mishna (Nedarim 7:5) in today’s daf (Nedarim 56b) teaches us that someone who has made a vow prohibiting them from entering a particular home (בית) is forbidden to enter the doorframe of that home or be in any other part of that home. What we learn from here is that the boundaries of a…

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Nedarim 55

Today’s daf (Nedarim 55a) includes an insight, or to be more accurate, an outlook and a philosophy, which I endeavour to follow. Rav Yosef asks Rava: “what is the meaning of ‘And from the Midbar (wilderness) Matana, and from Matana Nahaliel, and from Nahaliel Bamot” (Bemidbar 21:18-19)’? Significantly, the reason for Rav Yosef asking this…

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Nedarim 54

If you’ve ever done an online order with a supermarket, then you’ve likely experienced receiving a product which, rather it being the product that you ordered which is produced by your preferred brand, it is the same product but produced by another brand.Admittedly, there are some people who just shrug such things off.However, there are…

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Nedarim 53

‘If someone makes a vow while they are in Israel prohibiting themselves from oil, then they are permitted to have sesame oil but prohibited to have olive oil, whereas if someone makes a vow while they are in Babylon prohibiting themselves from oil, then they are prohibited to have sesame oil and permitted to have…

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Nedarim 52

The Mishna (Nedarim 6:6-7) in today’s daf (Nedarim 52a) presents us with a general rule about the flavour (טעם) of a prohibited food. For example, according to Rabbi Tarfon, if someone made a vow prohibiting themselves from meat, and eggs were then cooked with that meat in a pot, then those eggs are also forbidden…

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Nedarim 51

Within its discussion about the meanings of words used in vows, today’s daf (Nedarim 51b) addresses the question of the difference between someone who forbids themselves from a דג (‘dag’ – fish), and someone who forbids themselves from a דגה (‘dagah’ – another word for fish)?The Gemara initially answers by claiming that the former is…

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Nedarim 50

In my commentary to today’s daf (Nedarim 50a), I would like to reference some of the ideas that I previously mentioned in my remarks on Yevamot 62b (https://rabbijohnnysolomon.com/yevamot-62/) while adding some further insights based on additional details mentioned in our daf.As I explained there, Rabbi Akiva had a very broad admissions policy to his yeshiva.…

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Nedarim 49

Today’s daf (Nedarim 49b) relates how a certain Roman noblewoman who saw Rabbi Yehuda with such a radiant face that she erroneously drew the conclusion that he must have been drunk, critically retorted to him, “How can a rabbi who makes religious decisions be someone who is drunk?!”. To this, Rabbi Yehuda replied that he…

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Nedarim 48

Today’s daf (Nedarim 48b) tells a story of a father whose son was known to steal bundles of flax. Frustrated and disappointed, the father made a vow forbidding his son from inheriting his property. However, he was then approached by some local Rabbis who asked: ‘What if your son becomes a Torah scholar? (i.e. what…

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Nedarim 47

A Beraita is quoted in today’s daf (Nedarim 47b) stating that, ‘If one says to his wife, “Benefiting from me is konam for you”, she may [nevertheless] borrow [money to sustain herself], and the creditors can come and collect [her debts from her husband]’.The problem is that, if we momentarily put aside the serious question…

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Nedarim 46

In this attempt to explain the Mishna (Nedarim 1:5) in today’s daf (Nedarim 46a), I would like to highlight a misunderstanding of the Ra’avad (Rabbi Abraham ben David, 1125-1198), who claims that the Rambam (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, 1138-1204) misunderstood the Mishna, but which, as noted by the Radbaz (Rabbi David ben Solomon ibn Zimra,…

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Nedarim 45

The Mishna (Nedarim 5:1) in today’s daf (Nedarim 45b) informs us of a situation of partners (שּׁוּתָּפִין) of a courtyard who each make a vow forbidding themselves from deriving benefit from each other. According to the first opinion in the Mishna, the result of such a vow is that neither partner can then enter the…

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Nedarim 44

Have you ever sent an email which you then wanted to take back before it was received? Nowadays, Gmail has a setting called ‘Undo Send’ which allows you to do so – but only within 30 seconds of sending the email. What this means is that while we may regret sending a message, our ability…

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Nedarim 43

Imagine Judy is the kind of person who is easily angered and who, in the heat of her anger, can say hurtful things to others. Moreover, imagine that Judy is not only the kind of person who is justifiably prepared to distance herself from those who upset or hurt her, but she also, figuratively speaking,…

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Nedarim 42

The Mishna (Nedarim 4:6) at the end of today’s daf (Nedarim 42b) tells us that someone who is bound by a vow that forbids them from benefitting from their fellow may not lend them items and nor may they borrow items from them; they may not lend them money and nor may they borrow money…

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Nedarim 41

Today’s daf (Nedarim 41a) relates how Rebbi (Rabbi Yehuda HaNassi) – who would learn his Torah out loud (nb. on the importance of learning out loud and not just in silence see Bruria’s teaching on Eruvin 53a) – created a system of identifying thirteen different ways to make sense of any given halacha. Unfortunately, when…

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Nedarim 40

We are taught by Rav Dimi in today’s daf (Nedarim 40a) that the act of visiting the sick significantly enhances the prayers that one says for the sick person. This is because by being present and by seeing the person who is unwell, one’s heart is stirred even more than it would be when just…

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Nedarim 39

Today’s daf (Nedarim 39b) includes a teaching of Resh Lakish who asks: רֶמֶז לְבִיקּוּר חוֹלִין מִן הַתּוֹרָה מִנַּיִן? – ‘Where do we find a hint in the Torah to visiting the sick?’. His answer is a verse from Bemidbar 16:29 (where God speaks just before the earth opens up in response to the rebellion of…

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Nedarim 38

 Today’s daf (Nedarim 38b) makes reference to a כּוֹס שֶׁל שָׁלוֹם (literally, ‘a cup of peace’). However, we are then told that there is a debate as to what this is referring to.According to the Torah scholars of Babylon, it is a כּוֹס שֶׁל בֵּית הָאֵבֶל – the cup offered to a mourner while mourning…

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Nedarim 37

As a continuation of its explanation of Mishna Nedarim 4:3, yesterday’s daf (Nedarim 36b) quoted a statement of Shmuel that while a teacher may receive payment for teaching scripture (i.e. תורה שבכתב), they may not receive payment for teaching Midrash, [Halachot and Aggadot] (i.e. תורה שבעל פה). The question asked in today’s daf (Nedarim 37a)…

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Nedarim 36

 There is a fascinating discussion in today’s daf (Nedarim 36b) about whether doing a mitzvah which benefits another needs their consent? Specifically, the Gemara addresses whether someone can take it upon themselves to remove an extra amount of terumah (tithes) from their produce so that their friend need not have to take tithes from their…

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Nedarim 35

 Today’s daf (Nedarim 35b) raises the question of whether Kohanim are שלוחי דרחמנא (agents of God), or שלוחי דידן (agents of us, i.e. the Jewish people). If the former, then were we to make a vow to forbid us from benefitting from a Kohen the vow would then be invalid because the Kohen ultimately an…

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Nedarim 34

A case is presented by Rav Chiya bar Avin in today’s daf (Nedarim 34b) about someone who makes a vow, saying: “my loaf of bread is forbidden [as if it would have been consecrated to the Temple] to you (i.e. a specific person which that individual identifies)” and then gives the loaf of bread to…

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Nedarim 33

 As part of our Gemara’s discussion about the making of oaths, reference is made in today’s daf (Nedarim 33b) to Mishna Ketubot 13:2 which informs us that ‘if someone went overseas and left his wife [and family] without providing financial support, and someone then provided that woman [and family] with funds during the husband’s absence,…

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Nedarim 32

Today’s daf (Nedarim 32a) records, on the basis of Bereishit 15:5, how Avraham gazed at his Mazal (his astrological signs) and concluded that he was destined to have just one son (i.e. Yishmael). In response, God told Avraham to look beyond what he could see because אֵין מַזָּל לְיִשְׂרָאֵל – ‘Israel (i.e. the Jewish people)…

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Nedarim 31

The Mishna (Nedarim 3:11) in today’s daf (Nedarim 31b) contains a statement that calls for further explanation. Specifically, we are informed that אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ לֹא נִקְרָא שָׁלֵם עַד שֶׁמָּל – ‘Avraham our forefather was not referred to as being complete until he was circumcised’, as we learn from Bereishit 17:1 where God commands Avraham הִתְהַלֵּךְ…

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Nedarim 30

(TRIGGER WARNING: In this piece I make reference to childlessness, miscarriages and the loss of a child)Chodesh Tov!There are times while, when learning the Mishna & Gemara, we must ask ourselves the simple question: “Why?” – and I believe that this certainly applies to the Mishna (Nedarim 3:9) found in today’s daf (Nedarim 30b) which…

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Nedarim 29

There is a fascinating phrase which is used twice in today’s daf (Nedarim 29a-b): ‘physical sanctity (literally, ‘the sanctity of the body’) does not depart of its own accord, but monetary sanctity does depart of its own accord’ – קְדוּשַּׁת הַגּוּף לָא פָּקְעָה בִּכְדִי, קְדוּשַּׁת דָּמִים פָּקְעָה בִּכְדִי.What this means is that if money is…

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Nedarim 28

Is it permissible to make a vow about the status of your property when confronting thieves who enter your home in order to steal your property?This is the question addressed by Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel in the Mishna (Nedarim 3:4) found in today’s daf (Nedarim 28a), and while both conclude by saying ‘yes’, they…

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Nedarim 27

I previously explained in my commentary to Nedarim 23a that certain vows, known as נִדְרֵי אֳנָסִים, are considered to be invalid if unforeseen circumstances occur which impede the person who made the vow from fulfilling their vow.In today’s daf (Nedarim 27b) we continue to explore this theme while discussing some of the examples given in…

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Nedarim 26

“Had I known that…” (אִילּוּ הָיִיתִי יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁ…). These are the words used in today’s daf (Nedarim 26a) which discusses the laws pertaining to נִדְרֵי שְׁגָגוֹת (unintentional vows) where a person made a vow restricting themselves from benefitting from a group of people or items but didn’t realize that their vow included people or items…

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Nedarim 25

Today’s daf (Nedarim 25a) mentions a foundational principle of Jewish thought and Jewish practice which is referenced in passing during a discussion about the intent of a person when making an oath.In terms of the source of this foundational principle, it is Devarim 29:13 where we read how Moshe – just days before his death…

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Nedarim 24

In a previous Mishna (Nedarim 3:1) we were taught about various vows which, given the circumstances in which they were uttered, are considered to be invalid. And among these is the category of נִדְרֵי אֳנָסִים – ‘vows whose fulfilment is impeded by circumstances beyond one’s control’.On this theme, today’s daf (Nedarim 24a) cites a later…

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Nedarim 23

I’ve always been interested in exploring the human stories which have served as springboards for the development of halacha. And similarly, I believe that it is crucial that a Rabbi understands the context and background of the people who seek their halachic guidance. With this in mind, I’d like to examine an episode recorded in…

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Nedarim 22

Today’s daf (Nedarim 22b) contains a teaching from Rabbah bar Rav Huna that, ‘whoever gets angry [indicates that] even the divine presence is not important before him (אינה חשובה כנגדו), as it says, “Someone involved in wickedness, at the height of their anger, [thinks] ‘He (i.e. God) will not seek’ (בַּל יִדְרֹשׁ) and all his…

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Nedarim 21

So far in our study of Massechet Nedarim we have spoken about the specific words that are needed to be verbalized in order make a valid vow. However, we are taught in Mishna Nedarim (3:1) that there are certain circumstances when even if someone did use the correct ‘vow terminology’, their vow is invalid. And…

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Nedarim 20

Today’s daf (Nedarim 20a-b) records a startling episode which leads me to suggest that there is much more to it than meets the eye.We are taught: ‘The asked Imma Shalom (who was the wife of Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus and the sister of Rabban Gamliel): “How come your children are so beautiful?” Imma Shalom replied,…

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Nedarim 19

Today’s daf (Nedarim 19b) compares the laws of a נזיר ודאי – ‘a definite nazir’ with a נזיר ספק – ‘a doubtful nazir’, and explains that the latter is treated more strictly than the former: ‘whereas a definite nazir may shave [his hair] and bring an offering which is eaten [when the period of Nezirut…

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Nedarim 18

The Mishna (Nedarim 2:4) in today’s daf (Nedarim 18b) draws two parallel distinctions between those residing in Judea and those living in the Galilee.Firstly, according to Rabbi Yehuda, a non-specific vow referencing ‘terumah’ (סתם תרומה) made by those in Judea is binding, while it is not binding if made by someone in the Galilee. This…

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Nedarim 17

If you want to understand the difference between muti-tasking and muti-focussing, a good place to start is the Mishna (Nedarim 2:3) in today’s daf (Nedarim 17a).To get a sense of context, this Mishna is part of a series of Mishnayot comparing נדרים (vows) with שבועות (oaths) which, as I noted in my commentary to yesterday’s…

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Nedarim 16

The Mishna (Nedarim 2:2) in today’s daf (Nedarim 16a) contrasts שבועות (oaths) with נדרים (vows) and states that if someone were to vow ‘Konam – a sukkah that I make’, or ‘Konam – a lulav that I take’, or ‘[Konam] – tefillin that I put on’, then this vow would be effective and would prohibit…

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Nedarim 15

We were previously taught in the Mishna (Nedarim 2:1) about certain situations when someone utters words that, though they may sound like a vow, are not formally considered to be a vow. Still, the Mishna informs us that if such a person does not fulfil what they said they would do, they have contravened the…

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Nedarim 14

Why do people make vows, especially when those vows express their desire to make positive changes in their Jewish life?Admittedly, there are countless scenarios that may prompt a person to make such a vow. Nevertheless, I believe that today’s daf (Nedarim 14b) alludes to the two types of major events that often serve as an…

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Nedarim 13

There is an interesting debate between Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Chanina ben Gamliel as recorded in Mishna Kiddushin 3:4 and referenced on numerous occasions in Massechet Nedarim, whether מִכְּלָל לָאו אַתָּה שׁוֹמֵעַ הֵן – ‘from a negative statement you can infer a positive statement’, meaning that if someone says that they won’t do something, can…

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Nedarim 12

I would like to share a teaching from today’s daf (Nedarim 12a) whose application motivates so much of what I think and do.We are taught that if someone said, “I hereby undertake that I will neither eat meat nor drink wine as on the day on which my father died”, or “as on the day…

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Nedarim 11

The previous Mishna (Nedarim 1:3; Nedarim 10b) raises the question of the efficacy of someone using the term כִּירוּשָׁלָיִם – ‘like Jerusalem’ as an expression of a vow. Does this term sufficiently communicate the likely intention of the individual making a vow that something is to be sanctified ‘like [a sacrifice in] Jerusalem’? Or is…

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Nedarim 10

  Having previously been taught that vows can be made through invoking formal vow-making formulas as well as certain alternative expressions (כינויים), today’s daf (Nedarim 10a) records an apparent disagreement between Rav Yochanan and Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish about the origins of these halachically approved כינויים (alternative expressions).According to Rav Yochanan, these כינויים are לשון אומות…

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Nedarim 9

Today’s daf (Nedarim 9b) tells a story that calls for further explanation.We begin with Shimon HaTzaddik who was a Kohen Gadol for 40 years and who attests to the fact that ‘in all my days’ (i.e. all the while that I was a Kohen Gadol), I refrained from eating the Asham offering of a Nazir…

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Nedarim 8

Yesterday Israel went to the polls, and though the count is yet to be completed, there is an overall consensus about the predicted result. Like every election, not all people feel the same way about this outcome. There are some who are delighted, some who are relieved, some who are disappointed, and some who are…

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Nedarim 7

Today is election day in Israel, and I will soon be fulfilling my right and privilege to vote as a citizen of the State of Israel. Given this, when I opened and studied today’s daf (Nedarim 7) I did so with an intense awareness of my feelings about the current and possible future state of…

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Nedarim 6

In my commentary to yesterday’s daf (see https://rabbijohnnysolomon.com/nedarim-5/) I discussed the concept of ידים (literally, ‘handles’), which is the term our Rabbis use to describe a situation when only part of a vow-making formula is expressed from which the intention to make a particular vow can be inferred.With this in mind, Rav Pappa raises a…

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Nedarim 5

As we know, the meaning of the word Nedarim is ‘vows’, and as the past few dapim of Massechet Nedarim have taught us, alongside the formal vow-making formulas, certain alternative expressions (כינויים) incorporating various translations of these key vow-making formulas may also be used to make a vow. For example, if one were to say,…

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Nedarim 4

Today’s daf (Nedarim 4a) begins by discussing the halachic implications of someone who vows to become a Nazir while standing in a cemetery. Significantly, a Nazir is prohibited to go to a cemetery. Nevertheless, while we are taught that, in such a situation, though the vow takes effect, the actual period of Nezirut does not…

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Nedarim 3

“The Torah speaks in human terms” (דברה תורה בלשון בני אדם). This principle, which is often invoked by our classic commentaries, is mentioned more than once in today’s daf (Nedarim 3a-b) while clarifying the way in which the Torah speaks about vow-making – with the implied consequences relating to what must be said for a…

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Nedarim 2

If we had to summarise the first Mishna of Massechet Nedarim (2a), it would be that if you sincerely wish to make a vow to God, then whether you use normative vow-making words, or you use of alternative expressions (כינויים) to the words most commonly used when making a vow, your vow is valid. The…

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Ketubot 112

The final daf of Massechet Ketubot (daf 112b) discusses two topics that are very dear to my heart: Torah study and the Land of Israel. And as I complete my study of Massechet Ketubot – which is the 15th Massechet since the beginning of the current cycle of Daf Yomi, and as I write this…

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Ketubot 111

There is a teaching of Rabbi Elazar in today’s daf (Ketubot 111b) which calls for further elucidation. Specifically, we are taught: כל המשתמש באור תורה – ‘whoever makes use of the light of the Torah’, then אור תורה מחייהו – ‘the light of the Torah will revive him’. And why does this call for further…

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Ketubot 110

 As we near the end of our study of Massechet Ketubot, today’s (Ketubot 110b) – along with the upcoming dapim – discusses the importance of living in Israel. In particular, a Beraita is quoted in today’s daf which, while referencing the common situation where a wife wishes to make Aliyah but the husband does not,…

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Ketubot 109

Oftentimes we keep upcoming significant personal, professional and financial transitions and decisions private to just us, our spouse (where relevant), and our very closest friends until they become public to avoid the spread of information and the jinxing of those decisions at the wrong time.These transitions or decisions may relate to an upcoming move overseas,…

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Ketubot 108

 There is a concept in the Gemara, itself based on a biblical verse (see Shemot 22:8), of מודה במקצת – literally, ‘one who admits something in part’ – which refers to a situation when someone admits owing part, though not all, of something or a group of things that another claims to have lent to…

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Ketubot 107

If you studied today’s daf (Ketubot 107a) with care, you will have noticed that on four separate occasions reference is made to the בני כהנים גדולים – literally, ‘the sons of the High Priests’, who engage in various rabbinic disputes relating to the financial support given to a wife when her husband is overseas or…

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Ketubot 106

A story – spanning the end of yesterday’s daf (Ketubot 105b) and the beginning of our daf (Ketubot 106a) – is told about Rav Anan who recused himself from judging a case for fear of not being impartial. However, through his imprecise use of words, and through the fact that his colleague Rav Nachman made…

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Ketubot 105

“A rabbi whose community does not disagree with him is no rabbi. A rabbi who fears his community is no man.” These words, which are said to have been uttered by Rabbi Yisrael Salanter, are often quoted to Rabbinical students in order to remind them of the need to speak truth and promote mitzvah observance…

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Ketubot 104

Today’s daf (Ketubot 104a) records the parting words of Rebbi from his deathbed who, with his ten fingers extended heavenward, proclaimed: “Master of the Universe, it is revealed and known before You that I toiled with my ten fingers in the study of Torah, but I did not benefit even with my little finger. May…

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Ketubot 103

Two days ago, I received a message from someone whose closest friend is unfortunately at the end stages of her life due to cancer who sought some Torah wisdom and chizuk as she braces herself for the days and weeks to come. We fixed a time to speak which worked out to be a few…

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Ketubot 102

Within the halachic codes and responsa literature we find an ongoing debate about whether כתיבה כדיבור דמי – ‘writing is like speech’ – meaning that if you write something down, is it considered as if you have said those words?For example, Rabbi Akiva Eiger discusses (see Responsa Rabbi Akiva Eiger No. 29) whether, if you…

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Ketubot 101

The Mishna (Ketubot 12:1) in today’s daf (Ketubot 101b) describes a situation where a man marries a woman with a daughter from a previous marriage and commits to financially sustain her.Significantly, as Rabbi Bleich explains in his essay titled ‘Support of Non-Biological Children in Jewish Law’ (see https://bit.ly/3D0eycB), ‘the Mishnah does not posit a requirement…

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Ketubot 100

Today’s daf (Ketubot 100a) discusses the situation when a Beit Din makes an error in terms of the amount of money or land that it awards an orphan from their parents’ estate. In such a case we are taught that יכולים למחות – they may protest and challenge this ruling which must then be re-evaluated.…

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Ketubot 99

As part of its discussion about the laws of agency (שליחות), reference was made in yesterday’s daf (Ketubot 98b) to the principle of מעילה (which primarily applies to the unlawful use of consecrated property). Specifically, the Gemara quoted from Mishna Meilah 6:1 which teaches us that if an agent (שליח) did not follow the instructions…

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Ketubot 98

Towards the end of yesterday’s daf (Ketubot 97b) we read the view of Rabbi Shimon who teaches that if a woman sold or pledged just part of the value of her ketubah then she forfeits her right to support. In contrast, the Sages rule that even if a woman sold or pledged just part of…

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Ketubot 97

We learn in today’s daf (Ketubot 97a) that if a person sold land because they needed money, and then circumstances changed leading to them not needing to have sold their land, then the sale can be revoked.Having made this point, we are then told that there was a time when there was a sudden food…

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Ketubot 96

Up until now, Gemara Ketubot has made it clear that while land (קרקע) can be taken from an estate, movable property (מטלטלין) cannot be taken as collateral for debts. Yet notwithstanding this principle, we are taught in today’s daf (Ketubot 96a) that ‘in the case of a widow who seized movable property for her support,…

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Ketubot 95

It has been said by Rav Chaim of Volozhin (see his Ruach Chaim commentary on Avot 5:22) that the study of Hilchot Sukkah (the Laws of Sukkah) can provide us with the necessary insight to solve the hardest of halachic problems. But what is so unique about Hilchot Sukkah that prompted R’ Chaim to make…

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Ketubot 94

Sometimes we can learn a story in the Gemara that has so many holes in it that it requires us to do some detective work; and while it may not be possible to answer all of our questions or reach conclusive outcomes, the evidence can certainly point us in a particular direction to help us…

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Ketubot 93

As the cases concerning ketubah law become more and more complex, with the Mishna (Ketubot 10:5) in today’s daf (Ketubot 93b) discussing how the estate of a man should be divided if he was married to four wives, it is noteworthy that our Mishna quotes ‘Ben Nanas’ – which is a name that we’ve encountered…

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Ketubot 92

Today is the day after Yom Kippur, and as I study today’s daf (Ketubot 92) – which speaks about the ability of creditors to take land that debtors have used as collateral – I wonder how, beyond the specific details being discussed, our daf speaks to me.However, I then noticed that our daf refers to…

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Ketubot 91

I hope you all had a meaningful Yom Kippur, and having made Havdalah, had something to eat, checked in with all those whom I advised before Yom Kippur, and spent some time building our sukkah, it is so wonderful to turn to Daf Yomi on a Motzei Yom Kippur as an expression of starting the…

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Ketubot 90

While I strive to learn the daf every day, I also strive to live with the daf every day. Consequently, I often find myself noticing making connections between the words in our daf and the events of the day including today – Erev Yom Kippur.In terms of today’s daf (Ketubot 90b), it describes a situation…

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Ketubot 89

The Mishna (Ketubot 9:9) in today’s daf (Ketubot 89a) quotes a ruling of Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel who states that during a time of danger (סכנה), if a woman is divorced but does not have her ‘get’ (Jewish divorce bill) or any other documentation to prove this fact, she is nevertheless given the monies owed…

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Ketubot 88

Today’s daf (Ketubot 88a) informs us that debts can be collected even in a debtor’s absence due to the consideration שלא תנעול דלת בפני לווין – ‘that we do not lock the door in the face of borrows’. What this means is that were lenders to be unable to get their money back when a…

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Ketubot 87

There is a lovely phrase used in today’s daf (Ketubot 87b) describing a situation when a husband and wife have an oral agreement about a monetary matter which is later invoked in order for her to receive the monies he agreed to give her and where we read her declare: אמנה היתה לי ביני לבינו…

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Ketubot 86

I want to share something personal: my feet are both long and wide which therefore makes shoe shopping a challenge as most shoes that should fit me simply aren’t comfortable on me. Consequently, whenever I am in need of a pair of shoes, I enter shoes stores reluctantly; yes, I hope to find a pair…

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Ketubot 85

A question addressed in today’s daf (Ketubot 85b) concerns the way in which decisions are made when someone dies having instructed on their deathbed that ‘Toviah’ should be the beneficiary of their property – but not having specified which ‘Toviah’ they are referring to.In the specific case being discussed, this individual has a close friend…

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Ketubot 84

As we know, Rosh Hashanah is known as יום הדין, ‘the Day of Judgement’. Yet notwithstanding the awesomeness of Rosh Hashanah which is often likened to being in a courtroom before God as our judge and jury, we also approach Rosh Hashanah with a spirit of confidence because our judge is not just our king…

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Ketubot 82 & 83

Shana Tova & I hope you had an uplifting start of 5783!In terms of Daf Yomi, over Rosh Hashanah we studied Ketubot 82-83, with Ketubot 82a beginning by quoting a Beraita stating that if someone claims money from their friend (חבירו), while their friend has a claim on a further friend (חבירו בחבירו), then the…

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