September 10, 2021

Beitzah 10


Today’s daf (Beitzah 10a) explores the Talmudic principle of ברירה (‘Bereira’ – meaning ‘clarification’) which concerns an ambiguous situation at a particular moment whose ambiguity has halachic ramifications on the people or items involved at that moment. Then, at a later time, the particulars of that situation are clarified, with the question then being whether this clarification retroactively changes the previously established halachic status of those people or items.

While the principle of ברירה is subject to debate and has wide-reaching implications, on a more basic level these days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are also about ברירה (clarification). We ask God that while what we may have done in the past year might have been questionable that He show us grace and pardon us by retroactively seeing the good in some of the bad that we may have done. And on what basis do we make this petition? Due to the fact that this too is what we should be doing in these days – by reflecting on what others may have done to us and possibly adopting a different perspective on their actions and our reactions, while asking others to do the same for us.

It is quite clear that there are many situations that are not immediately clear to us. But it is equally clear that there are many situations which, after the fact, can be clarified and understood more clearly. However, this change of perspective doesn’t happen automatically; ברירה (clarification) needs to be a conscious process.

It has been said that you can’t change the past – which is true. At the same time, you can change the way you see the past which, as evident from the discussion surrounding the principle of ברירה, can have a direct impact on the present, and this is what we try and do in these days: look back, see things differently, and feel renewed based on an altogether different perspective on the events that led us to where and who we are today.

Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom!

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