Category: Daf Yomi

Moed Katan 9

It happens twice in our daf (Moed Katan 9b). A son is encouraged by his father to receive a bracha from one, or more, great Rabbis. The son goes and receives the bracha, but he thinks that the words of the Rabbi/s is meaningless, and in one of the two cases, even offensive. But afterwards,…

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Moed Katan 8

We are taught in the Mishna (Moed Katan 1:7) that weddings may not be held on Chol HaMoed. However, as the Gemara (Moed Katan 8b) then asks, this seems strange since שמחה היא לו – weddings are a source of joy. As such, surely Chol HaMoed is the ideal time to get married!The answer to…

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Moed Katan 7

The Mishna (Moed Katan 1:5) and the subsequent discussion in today’s daf (Moed Katan 7a), contains what I believe to be an important insight in terms of practical Jewish living and halachic decision-making.As we know, the Torah informs us that: ‘when a person has a swelling, a rash, or a bright patch on their skin,…

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Moed Katan 6

Having been taught in the Mishna (Moed Katan 1:2) that ויוצאין אף על הכלאים – ‘[agents of the court] also go out [to inspect fields] for Kilayim (plant crossbreeding) [on Chol HaMoed Pesach]’, today’s daf (Moed Katan 6a) raises the question as to why this is done for the later crops (according to one opinion)…

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Moed Katan 5

We were previously taught in the Mishna (Moed Katan 1:2) that it is permissible to fix markers on an unmarked grave – or what is known as ציון קברות – on Chol HaMoed to serve as a warning to those passing by from contracting Tum’at Met. And in today’s daf (Moed Katan 5a), there is…

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Moed Katan 4

We were previously taught in the Mishna (Moed Katan 1:2) that ומתקנין את המקולקלת במועד – ‘we may repair a damaged irrigation canal during Chol HaMoed’, and this leads the Gemara (Moed Katan 4b) to ask מאי מקולקלת – ‘what is [considered] damaged?’. To this, Rabbi Abba answers that if the irrigation canal was previously…

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Moed Katan 3

Much of today’s daf (Moed Katan 3a-b) explores the various activities which are prohibited during the Shemitta year, and it is here where we are taught that there are also ימים שהוסיפו חכמים לפני ראש השנה – ‘days that the Sages added prior to Rosh Hashanah [when plowing is also prohibited]’.In seeking to explain this…

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Moed Katan 2

To be a ‘Shaliach’ is generally translated, at least in the purely halachic sense, as a ‘messenger’ whose task it is to deliver a particular item or message from one person to another. However, the word ‘Shaliach’ in the broader aggadic sense – especially as reflected in the teachings and vision of the Lubavitcher Rebbe…

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Megillah 32

Mazal Tov! Today we completed our study of Massechet Megillah, and in the final daf (Megillah 32a) we are taught about: 1) The need to see the text of the Sefer Torah prior to reciting a bracha on the Torah; 2) That Torah must be read with a נעימה (pleasant tone) and זמרה (song), 3)…

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Megillah 31

Today’s daf (Megillah 31b) contains a pithy teaching that conveys a lesson derived from an episode in Sefer Melachim (The Book of Kings) – a lesson that is sadly is far too often overlooked today.In terms of Sefer Melachim, when Rehavam (רחבעם) the son of Shlomo ascended to the throne, he was approached by the…

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Megillah 30

We were taught in the Mishna (Megillah 3:4) that on the second of the series of the four special Shabbatot on which an extra portion of the Torah is read (ארבע פרשיות), we read Parshat Zachor.Given this, the question is asked in today’s daf (Megillah 30a) about what should be done if Purim falls on…

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Megillah 29

Much of today’s daf (Megillah 29a) explores the concept that, even absent of the Temple, God’s presence (Shechina) remains with us in exile and that, as the prophet relates: ‘though I have placed them far away among the nations, and though I have scattered them over the lands, I am a minor sanctuary for them…

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Megillah 28

Much of Megillah 27b-28a is filled with the responses of various elderly Talmudic masters to the question posed to them by their disciples of במה הארכת ימים – ‘On account of which [meritorious practise] have you attained longevity?’.For example, Rav Preida answered this question by stating that, ‘In all my days (מימי), no one ever…

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Megillah 27

Sometimes we can learn a text and do a double-take because either we suspect that we haven’t understood the text well enough, or it would appear that the text describes an outlook that sits outside the boundaries of what we think to be moral.I mention this in reference to today’s daf (Megillah 27a) where, having…

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Megillah 26

We generally assume that once an item has been sanctified for sacred purposes, it is then considered to be sacred. However, as I shall soon explain such a statement is imprecise, and beyond this, in order to show respect to the most sacred of items, our Sages – as explained in today’s daf (Megillah 26b)…

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Megillah 25

Today’s daf (Megillah 25a-b) contains two Mishnaic teachings that – on first glance – are contradictory, while – at the same time – just one of these teachings is regularly cited as the basis for educational policies in numerous schools and communities notwithstanding the fact that this teaching is almost always misinterpreted.We begin with the…

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Megillah 24

A fascinating discussion in today’s daf (Megillah 24b) relates to a verse in Devarim 28:29 which warns the Jewish people that if they ignore the laws and values of the Torah, וְהָיִיתָ מְמַשֵּׁשׁ בַּצָּהֳרַיִם כַּאֲשֶׁר יְמַשֵּׁשׁ הַעִוֵּר בָּאֲפֵלָה וְלֹא תַצְלִיחַ אֶת דְּרָכֶיךָ – ‘you will grope at noon as someone who is blind gropes in…

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Megillah 23

There are times when the word ‘Torah’ is used to exclusively refer to the Pentateuch (חמישה חומשי תורה), times when it is used to refer to the Bible (תנ”ך), other times when we use the word ‘Torah’ to refer to the core teachings of the Written & Oral Law (תנ”ך משנה וגמרא), and other instances…

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Megillah 22

Today is Rosh Chodesh Shvat, and today’s daf (Megillah 22b) teaches us that on Rosh Chodesh there is an extra (fourth) oleh LaTorah (individual that is called up to the Torah). But why?According to a Beraita cited in our daf, it is because Rosh Chodesh is a day when people are under less work pressure…

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Megillah 21

We are taught in today’s daf (Megillah 21a) that one must stand when reading the Torah for a congregation, and according to Rabbi Abahu, this requirement is based on the words of Devarim 5:28 where God tells Moshe: ‘And you, stand here with Me (וְאַתָּה פֹּה עֲמֹד עִמָּדִי) and I will tell you all the…

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Megillah 20

The Mishna (Megillah 2:4) in today’s daf (Megillah 20a) lists a variety of mitzvot that need to be performed in the daytime and which are invalid if performed before daybreak – namely: 1) The (daytime) reading of the Megillah, 2) Brit Milah (Circumcision), 3) Tevillah (Immersion in a Mikveh) for those who have been in…

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Megillah 19

The Mishna (Megillah 2:3) in today’s daf (Megillah 19a) records a debate between Rabbi Meir, Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Yosi about the quantity of the Megillah text which must be read to fulfil the religious duty of מקרא מגילה.According to Rabbi Meir, the entire text of the Megillah must be read. According to Rabbi Yehuda,…

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Megillah 18

We are taught in today’s daf (Megillah 18b) that a Megillah or, in fact, even one letter of the Megillah, may not be written by heart (אסור לכתוב אות אחת שלא מן הכתב). Instead, it must be copied from a pre-existing Megillah.Nevertheless, we are then taught a Beraita telling us of a specific incident when,…

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Megillah 17

Today’s daf (Megillah 17a) contains many fascinating and profound teachings. But since the daf opens with a teaching – echoed in the Midrash (Bereishit Rabbah 68:11) – whose core concept and educational implications has been something that I’ve been speaking about for many years ever since I first encountered a truly remarkable interpretation on this…

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Megillah 16

In recent weeks I’ve been listening to the podcast ‘A Slight Change of Plans’, and when I studied a particular section of today’s daf (Megillah 16a) relating to Charvona, it reminded me of a fascinating episode titled ‘The Science of Quitting’ (see https://bit.ly/317iOai) where the host, Maya Shankar, interviews Annie Duke who has recently written…

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Megillah 15

Today’s daf (Megillah 15a) includes the teaching of Rabbi Elazar in the name of Rabbi Chanina that the blessing of an ordinary person should never be treated lightly in our eyes.In terms of the meaning of this statement, Rav Dessler explains (see Strive for Truth Vol. 2 p. 158) that we learn from here how…

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Megillah 14

Much of today’s daf (Megillah 14a-b) teaches us about the שבע נביאות – the seven biblical prophetesses (Sarah, Miriam, Devorah, Chana, Avigail, Chuldah & Esther) whose prophecies related not only to themselves but to others and/or the Jewish people as a whole. And as Massechet Megillah’s primary focus is the Purim story, I’d like to…

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Megillah 13

Today’s daf (Megillah 13b) provides us with a stark reminder that the Jewish people are in danger when those with influence or power use their platforms to slander Jews – no matter how illogical or irrational such slander is – for it is here that Rava teaches us: ליכא דידע לישנא בישא כהמן – ‘there…

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Megillah 12

Today’s daf (Megillah 12b) decodes the information that we are told about Mordechai in the beginning of the Megillah (Esther 2:5) which states: ‘There was a Jewish man in Shushan the capital, and his name was Mordechai, son of Yair, son of Shimi, son of Kish, a Benjaminite’.But why, asks the Gemara, are we told…

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Megillah 11

Throughout the Tanach we find people or groups of people who presume that they can know, with both precision and certainty, when certain future events which have been prophecied will occur, and just as we find with Achashverosh in today’s daf (Megillah 11b), they each make the claim: אנא חשיבנא ולא טעינא – ‘I shall…

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Megillah 10

While not experienced by all those who had the displeasure of COVID, nevertheless one of the oft-discussed side effects of this virus is the loss of the sense of smell.For those who have unfortunately lost their sense of smell either for a fixed period of time or who’ve still yet to fully recover this sense,…

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Megillah 9

In today’s daf (Megillah 9a-b) we are taught that beyond a Torah scroll being written in the classic כתב אשורית, Rabbi Shimon Ben Gamliel also permitted Torah scrolls to be written in יונית (Greek). The Gemara then relates the story of how King Ptolemy placed 72 elders in 72 different houses and then instructed each…

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Megillah 8

Today’s daf (Megillah 8a-b) contains many of the Mishnayot in the first chapter of Massechet Megillah where each of them begins with the same phrase of אין בין – ‘there is no difference between…’, they contrast two areas of religious practice (eg. vow offerings vrs. gift offerings), or two different degrees of someone who has…

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Megillah 7

Today’s daf (Megillah 7b) includes the oft-quoted teaching of Rava that: ‘It is the duty of a man to intoxicate (לבסומי) himself on Purim until he cannot tell the difference between ‘cursed be Haman’ and ‘blessed be Mordechai’’ which is understood as endorsing excess drinking ‘for the sake of Purim’. However, the real question is…

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Megillah 6

Today’s daf (Megillah 6b) contains a blunt yet important teaching by Rabbi Yitzchak that I often cite:‘If someone tells you יגעתי ולא מצאתי – I endeavoured [in Torah] and did not find [success] אל תאמין – do not believe them. If they say לא יגעתי ומצאתי – I did not endeavour [in Torah] but nevertheless…

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Megillah 5

In one of his stand-up performances, British comedian Ashley Blaker speaks of those Jews who go to synagogue just twice a year on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and he then says: “If you only want to go to shul twice a year, spread it out a bit! Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are eight…

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Megillah 4

Today’s daf (Megillah 4a) records a fascinating rule taught by Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi which, though codified by many of the Rishonim, is not widely practiced. Specifically, the rule states that if Purim falls on a Shabbat (which, nowadays, would only occur to Shushan Purim – the 15th of Adar – and would only apply…

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Megillah 3

Today’s daf (Megillah 3a-b) records how those serving in the Beit HaMikdash must temporarily cease doing so in order to hear the Megillah, and similarly, how those studying Torah must temporarily cease doing so in order to hear the Megillah.For some, these are just technical rules which speak to the hierarchy of mitzvah obligations on…

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Megillah 2

Today we begin Massechet Megillah whose opening Mishna informs us that while residents of walled cities (כרכין המוקפין) read Megillat Esther on the 15th of Adar, and while residents of villages and large towns (כפרים ועיירות) read it on the 14th of Adar, residents of villages (כפרים) – who may not have someone who knows…

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Rosh Hashanah 25

Rabban Gamliel was a remarkable Torah scholar and religious leader. He was a direct descendent of Hillel, and he was the Nasi of the Sanhedrin for thirty years in the period immediately after the destruction of the Second Beit HaMikdash. As such, he led the community during one of the most turbulent periods of Jewish…

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Rosh Hashanah 24

Today’s daf (Rosh Hashanah 24a-b) explores what witnesses must see in order for their testimony about the new moon be acceptable to the Sanhedrin. The problem, however, is that even when the witnesses did come to the Sanhedrin, the spoken questions which were asked of them as detailed in the Mishna (Rosh Hashanah 2:6, 23b)…

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Rosh Hashanah 23

Today’s daf (Rosh Hashanah 23a) contains a teaching by Rav Yochanan that ‘whoever learns Torah and does not teach it to others is comparable to a [fragrant] myrtle in the wilderness’ where no one is able to enjoy and appreciate its scent. However, some claim that Rav Yochanan actually taught that ‘whoever learns Torah and…

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Rosh Hashanah 22

Having discussed some laws relating to testifying about a new moon, the Mishna (Rosh Hashanah 1:8) in today’s daf (Rosh Hashanah 22a) – paralleling Mishna Sanhedrin 3:3 – informs us that a משחק בקוביא, meaning ‘someone who plays dice’ but also including those who engage in other games where money is gambled (see Aruch Hashulchan…

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Rosh Hashanah 21

The Mishna (Rosh Hashanah 1:6) found in today’s daf (Rosh Hashanah 21b) describes a fascinating situation concerning the halacha which allows witnesses who are en route to testify about a new moon to transgress the Shabbat laws in order to reach Jerusalem as soon as possible.In the case described in our Mishna we are told…

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Rosh Hashanah 20

The sole focus of our daf today (Rosh Hashanah 20a-b) are the laws pertaining to Rosh Chodesh and the various factors that would lead the Sanhedrin to add an extra day to a month.According to Rabbah bar Shmuel, the new moon should be sanctified when seen, and any other manipulations of the fixing of the…

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Rosh Hashanah 19

The theme of much of today’s daf (Rosh Hashanah 19a) is the Jewish Calendar and the sanctity of the festivals, and it is here where various contrasts are drawn between the rabbinic festivals listed in ‘Megillat Ta’anit’ and the biblical festivals.For example, we are taught in a Beraita that it is forbidden to fast on…

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Rosh Hashanah 18

We are taught a profound idea in today’s daf (Rosh Hashanah 18a) that Torah study, together with acts of kindness (gemilut chassadim), can help us foster merit from God, achieve atonement, and can bless us with longevity.Significantly, this is not the only place in the Gemara where we are given a glimpse of the power…

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Rosh Hashanah 17

 Much of the discussion in today’s daf (Rosh Hashanah 17a) relates to God’s final judgement of our deeds at the end of our life and the ways in which this judgement can be fused with God’s grace and mercy.On this theme, Rava teaches us that: כל המעביר על מדותיו מעבירין לו על כל פשעיו –…

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Rosh Hashanah 16

Today’s daf (Rosh Hashanah 16b) contains many profound theological teachings, including many associations with Parshat Vayera that we just read last Shabbat.Among these is a deceptively simple statement relating to the judgement and evaluation of Yishmael by God, where we are told that כִּי שָׁמַע אֱלֹהִים אֶל קוֹל הַנַּעַר בַּאֲשֶׁר הוּא שָׁם – “God has…

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Rosh Hashanah 15

We have previously learnt (Sukkah 35a) that one of the reasons why an Etrog is referred to with the word ‘Hadar’ (see Vayikra 23:40) – which can be translated as ‘that dwells’ – is because the Etrog can dwell and grow on its tree from one year to the next.The problem with this, as addressed…

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Rosh Hashanah 14

Today’s daf (Rosh Hashanah 14b) quotes an oft-cited Beraita – capturing a unique period in Jewish history where personal halachic choice was prioritised ahead of collective consensus – where we are informed that: ‘The law always follows Beit Hillel [when they are in dispute with Beit Shammai]. Someone who wishes to act in accordance with…

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Rosh Hashanah 13

In today’s daf (Rosh Hashanah 13a), as part of a broader discussion about the time it takes for fruit to ripen, reference is made to the phrase אֶרֶץ הַצְּבִי (Daniel 11:16), which though understood to mean ‘the cherished land [of Israel]’, literally translates as ‘the land of the deer’. And why is the Land of…

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Rosh Hashanah 12

Almost every year, at some point on January 1st, we read of a similar story highlighting one of the most fascinating aspects of time which describes how, at some point and in some place around the world in the prior 24 hours, twins were born – with one born just before midnight on December 31st…

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Rosh Hashanah 11

Every Friday night, as part of the Kiddush, we recite the words of Bereishit 2:1-3 which begins with the phrase: וַיְכֻלּוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ וְכָל צְבָאָם – ‘And the heaven, and the earth, and all theצְבָאָם were completed.’ Of course, we know that שָּׁמַיִם means ‘heaven’, and that אָרֶץ means ‘earth’, but what does the word…

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Rosh Hashanah 10

Today’s daf (Rosh Hashanah 10a-b) explores the question of whether periods shorter than a year can, in particular circumstances and for particular outcomes, be counted as a year. For example, here we are taught that 30 days can, in some situations, be counted as a year, while a further opinion goes so far as to…

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Rosh Hashanah 9

Much of Massechet Rosh Hashanah explores the concept of time, and in today’s daf (Rosh Hashanah 9a) we encounter a profound notion about our ability to sanctify time.Significantly, as has been noted by Rabbi Avraham Joshua Heschel in his exquisite book ‘The Sabbath’, Judaism emphasizes holy time above holy space: “Holiness in space, in nature,…

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Rosh Hashanah 8

We are taught in today’s daf (Rosh Hashanah 8a) that Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak said that the first of Tishrei is the New Year for judgement. And how does he derive this? From Devarim 11:12 where we are told how God observes our behaviour מֵרֵשִׁית הַשָּׁנָה וְעַד אַחֲרִית שָׁנָה – ‘from the beginning of the…

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Rosh Hashanah 7

Many years ago I read a unique book which unfortunately has few parallels before or since. Titled ‘One People, Two Worlds: A Reform Rabbi and an Orthodox Rabbi Explore the Issues that Divide Them’, this book reflects ‘an unprecedented eighteen-month e-mail correspondence on the fundamental principles of Jewish faith and practice’ between Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch…

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Rosh Hashanah 6

Much of today’s daf (Rosh Hashanah 6a) explores the laws of נדרים (vows), and it is here that a Beraita explains the words of Devarim 23:24 of: מוֹצָא שְׂפָתֶיךָ – ‘what emerges from your mouth’, תִּשְׁמֹר – ‘you shall observe’, וְעָשִׂיתָ כַּאֲשֶׁר נָדַרְתָּ לַה’ אֱ-לֹהֶיךָ – ‘and you shall do just as you vowed to…

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Rosh Hashanah 5

Yesterday, the 7th of Cheshvan, was the 88th yartzheit of Rav Meir Shapiro (1887-1933) who is regarded by many as being the founder of the Daf Yomi movement. A Hasidic rabbi with a truly brilliant mind, Rabbi Shapiro was a high achiever who, already from a young age, had a reputation for Torah greatness. Over…

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Rosh Hashanah 4

Today’s daf (Rosh Hashanah 4b) contains a rabbinic aphorism that I regularly invoke which, though mentioned in our daf as part of a highly specific discussion about delayed sacrifices, has applications to every aspect of our life and our overall philosophy of life itself. In terms of the Gemara’s discussion, the question is raised by…

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Rosh Hashanah 3

There is an interesting phrase used in today’s daf (Rosh Hashanah 3b) in relation to Daryavesh (Darius) who, as is claimed by a Beraita, is the same king that is also referred to by the (non-exclusive) titles Koresh (Cyrus) and Artachshasta. In terms of the background of this statement, the Gemara is confused by the…

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Rosh Hashanah 2

Having been taught in the Mishna (Rosh Hashanah 1:1) that the first of Nissan is the New Year for kings, the Gemara (Rosh Hashanah 2b) explains that this is deduced from Melachim I 6:1 where the reign of Shlomo HaMelech is calculated in relation to the Exodus from Egypt: ‘just as the Exodus is counted…

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Beitzah 40

When considering what should be my thought for today’s daf (Beitzah 40b) – the final in the Massechet – I was drawn to an observation found within the final lines of the Massechet. We are taught in a Beraita (see Beitzah 40a) that Rebbi is of the opinion that range animals are mukzeh on Shabbat…

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Beitzah 39

Having previously explained how the laws of ‘techumin’ (i.e. the prohibition of walking more than 2,000 amot beyond a town or city’s boundary on Shabbat and Yom Tov) apply not only to people by their possessions, and that if one borrows an item on Shabbat or Yom Tov then the item is physically limited to…

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Beitzah 38

 Today’s daf (Beitzah 38a-b) contains one of the most confusing and cryptic exchanges in the entire Gemara.We are told that soon after Rabbi Abba moved from Bavel to Eretz Yisrael, at which time he offered up a prayer that his Torah insights be accepted by the scholars in Eretz Yisrael, he became involved in a…

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Beitzah 37

A fascinating principle relating to ‘techumin’ (boundaries) is taught in the Mishna (Beitzah 5:4) found in today’s daf (Beitzah 37a) – from which we can learn much about sharing & caring. As we’ve previously learnt in Massechet Eruvin, a person is limited in walking 2,000 amot on Shabbat and Yom Tov based on their location…

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Beitzah 36

The Mishna (Beitzah 5:2) in today’s daf (Beitzah 36b) lists a variety of activities which our Sages forbade on Shabbat and Yom Tov for fear of what they may lead to. This includes לא מטפחין ולא מספקים ולא מרקדין – ‘we do not clap nor to we slap our hand to our thighs nor do…

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Beitzah 35

The Mishna (Beitzah 5:1) in today’s daf (Beitzah 35b) informs us that “We may put a vessel under dripping water on Shabbat [and then move that vessel as and when the vessel is filled]”. Significantly, the halachic concern which the Mishna seeks to clarify relates to the rain or drain water that has dripped into…

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Beitzah 34

In today’s daf (Beitzah 34a) we are taught a Beraita which describes an unusual situation where a number of people play a role in the forbidden act of cooking on Shabbat: ‘If one brings the fire, and one brings the wood, and one places the pot in position, and one brings the water, and one…

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Beitzah 33

Today’s daf (Beitzah 33b) makes reference to woods with a fragrance, noting that ‘we may handle fragrant woods [on Shabbat] to smell them’. And while it is true that some woods have a fragrance, a further truth is that the עץ חיים – the tree of life – of Torah also has a fragrance.Significantly, the…

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Beitzah 32

     Today’s daf (Beitzah 32b) informs us of a halacha that we may be מוחט a wick on Yom Tov – which is explained to mean that it is permitted to remove the burnt charcoaled section of a wick to make a lamp shine more brightly. Interestingly, when codifying this halacha, the Rambam (Shevitat…

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Beitzah 31

 Today’s daf (Beitzah 31b) raises the question of whether food may be taken on Yom Tov from a room that was previously sealed – which the Gemara initially understands to refer to a room that is literally sealed with bricks and mortar.To give some background, the laws of mukzeh teach us that items that are…

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Beitzah 30

The Mishna (Beitzah 4:1), as cited in today’s daf (30a), rules that in order to distinguish between Yom Tov and weekday activities, they should be performed with a שינוי, ‘a difference’. As the Mishna then notes, ‘one who brings pitchers of wine from place to place may not bring them in a basket or box…

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Beitzah 29

Today is Isru Chag (in Israel) which is when we reflect on the Yamim Tovim that we have experienced throughout Tishrei while also thinking about how we can channel the immense spiritual energy and inspiration that we have drawn within the past month into the coming year. And it is within this spirit that I…

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Beitzah 28

Having been taught in today’s daf (Beitzah 28a) that the only difference between the Shabbat and Yom Tov laws is אוכל נפש בלבד – matters relating to food, the question is raised in the Mishna (Beitzah 3:7) whether one may sharpen a knife on Yom Tov.Significantly, the Mishna answers by ruling that one may not…

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Beitzah 27

Quite often, while explaining a particular halachic ruling, the Gemara will make a statement which is rich with theological meaning and which deserves further examination. Today’s daf (Beitzah 27a) provides a great example of this where, having previously discussed (see Beitzah 26b) the mukzeh status of an item that – through its contact with the…

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Beitzah 26

Today’s daf (Beitzah 26b) records a question posed by [the Amora] Hillel to Rava concerning יש מוקצה לחצי שבת – the mukzeh status of an item on Shabbat that was only unfit for part of Shabbat.As the Gemara proceeds to explain, the case being described involves something (eg. figs that were drying outside) that was…

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Beitzah 25

Having just read the Kriat HaTorah this morning of VeZot HaBracha, it was lovely to see one of the beautiful pesukim of the parsha quoted by a Beraita found in today’s daf yomi (Beitzah 25b). In the final words of his life, Moshe Rabbeinu recounts how, ‘[The Lord came from Sinai. He shone upon them…

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Beitzah 24

Much of today’s daf (Beitzah 24a) explores the prohibited melacha of ציד (trapping) on Shabbat and Yom Tov, during which reference is made to doves (who, as the Gemara implies, often appear as if they are free even when trapped) and the specific circumstances in which the catching of doves is considered as trapping.Interestingly, Chazal…

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Beitzah 23

Early on in today’s daf (Beitzah 23a) we are taught that ‘inverting a fragrant cup on silk garments on Yom Tov is prohibited because it creates a [new] fragrance [in the garment]’. This is codified by the Rema in Orach Chaim 511:4, on which the Mishna Berura (note 26) adds that ‘[this applies] even with…

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Beitzah 22

We were previously taught in the Mishna (Beitzah 2:6, 21b) that on three matters Rabban Gamliel ruled strictly in accordance with Beit Shammai – of which one was that אין זוקפין את המנורה ביום טוב – ‘we may not straighten a candlestick on Yom Tov’. In today’s daf (Beitzah 22a) this ruling is further scrutinized,…

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Beitzah 21

In today’s daf (Beitzah 21a) we read that Rav Avya the Elder asked Rav Huna a technical and theoretical question about the laws of Yom Tov concerning slaughtering an animal on Yom Tov that is partially owned by a Jew and partially owned by an idolater. Notwithstanding the fact that, as Rashi explains, Rav Huna…

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Beitzah 20

 Today’s daf (Beitzah 20a) recounts a dramatic story where the elderly sage and disciple of Shammai, Baba ben Buta, prevented Shammai’s opinion concerning semicha (the leaning upon an animal sacrifice prior to their slaughter as described in Vayikra 3:2 which Shammai ruled was forbidden on Yom Tov) from becoming a rule of law by protesting…

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Beitzah 19

Early on in today’s daf (Beitzah 19a), we are introduced to a fascinating Talmudic principle of מחשבתו נכרת מתוך מעשיו – ‘a person’s intentions are evident from their actions’. As is clear from the specific case being discussed in the Gemara, there are many occasions where it is impossible to know the intentions of a person…

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Beitzah 18

In today’s daf (Beitzah 18a-b), reference is made to the mitzvah of immersing in a mikvah where the Gemara raises the question of why immersion is not considered as self-repairing (מתקן כלי) which surely should be forbidden on Shabbat or Yom Tov?The Gemara first answers by explaining that immersing in a mikvah may – at…

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Beitzah 17

I remember the first time I learnt today’s daf (Beitzah 17a) because through the journey I went on then, I learnt many lessons that have stayed with me till today.I was around 20 years old and was learning Beitzah with a chavruta, and we came to today’s daf where we find a debate about the…

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Beitzah 16

It is just over an hour after Yom Kippur has finished. I’ve had something to eat with the family, and also checked in with those whom I advised in the days prior to Yom Kippur re: fasting and eating to find out how they are doing. And now I turn to today’s daf (which, admittedly,…

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Beitzah 15

It is Erev Yom Kippur, and I am looking at today’s daf (Beitzah 15b) which informs us that what we learn from the words זכור את יום השבת – ‘remember the Shabbat day’ (Shemot 20:8) is that we should be sure to remember Shabbat מאחר שבא להשכיחו – ‘when a risk exists that we may…

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Beitzah 14

In seeking to explain the distinction drawn by Beit Hillel in the Mishna (Beitzah 1:7) in today’s daf (Beitzah 14a) who permits crushing spices with a stone pestle on Yom Tov, but who rules that salt may only be crushed on Yom Tov with a wooden pestle (or another tool other than a pestle), the…

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Beitzah 13

We learn in today’s daf (Beitzah 13a) that the obligation to take terumah only begins once grain, fruit and vegetables have been gathered and have been readied for use or consumption (גמר מלאכתם). Similarly, our religious progress and our spiritual growth should be determined based on our sense that we have reached גמר מלאכתם wherever…

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Beitzah 12

In today’s daf (Beitzah 12b), reference is made to terumah – which may not be separated on Yom Tov, and challah – which may be separated on Yom Tov. In terms of the difference, since the former (terumah) can be done prior to Yom Tov, it should be done then – especially since such separation…

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Beitzah 11

The Mishna (Beitzah 1:5) in today’s daf (Beitzah 11a) notes how Beit Hillel permitted placing an animal hide on Yom Tov in a location where it may be trampled on – for fear that failing to do so would hold people back from slaughtering on Yom Tov (and also lists two further cases ‘where the…

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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…

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Beitzah 9

 Today’s daf (Beitzah 9a) addresses the prohibition of מראית העין (‘mar’it ayin’) which forbids us from performing permitted acts within a context or in a manner that could be misinterpreted to the extent that others may then erroneously come to perform prohibited acts. Of course, a simple question about מראית העין is why does this apply…

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Beitzah 7-8

Among the laws discussed in the two dapim we studied over Rosh Hashanah (Beitzah 7-8) is the mitzvah of כיסוי הדם (the requirement that blood of a slaughtered bird or wild animal spill onto earth and be covered by earth so that it is, in a manner of speaking, ‘buried’ within the earth – see…

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Beitzah 6

Towards the end of today’s daf (Beitzah 6b) we encounter the halachic position of Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov that, even once hatched, a chick is not considered fully alive until it opens its eyes, and since we are about to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, I thought I’d dwell on the message of sight – both in…

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Beitzah 5

Today’s daf (Beitzah 5a) invokes the halachic principle that כל דבר שבמניין צריך מניין אחר להתירו – ‘any formal halachic decision which has been decided upon by a group of Sages requires a further group of Sages to revoke that decision’. In fact, the Gemara then cites biblical support for this principle from the fact…

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Beitzah 4

A story is told in today’s daf (Beitzah 4a-b) where Rav Pappa was asked a she’elah (halachic query) about the law of נולד and, following what he had heard was the practice of Rav (who did not answer she’elot on Yom Tov after the first meal since his meals were accompanied with wine and, given…

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Beitzah 3

Having previously introduced the concept of נולד – whereby an item or substance that either evolved into existence on Shabbat or Yom Tov, or assumed a new form that it did not previously have, may not be used on Shabbat on Yom Tov (with the classic example being an egg laid on Shabbat or Yom…

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Beitzah 2

Almost all of the first daf of Massechet Beitzah (2) deals with the law of נולד (literally ‘that which is born’) – which is the term used with reference to an item or substance that either evolved into existence on Shabbat or Yom Tov, or assumed a new form that it did not previously have.…

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Sukkah 56

Mazal Tov! Today we have reached the final daf of Massechet Sukkah (Sukkah 56), yet like many final dapim, there seems to be an assortment of ideas that – on first glance – don’t necessarily fit together.The daf begins by addressing the Mishna (Sukkah 5:7) which speaks of how kohanim served in one of 24…

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Sukkah 55

We are taught in the Mishna (Sukkah 5:6) in today’s daf (Sukkah 55b) that a total of seventy bulls were offered as sacrifices in the Temple over Sukkot, and this fact then prompted Rabbi Elazar to ask: ‘To what do these seventy bulls correspond?’, which he then answers by explaining that they correspond ‘to the…

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Sukkah 54

Having been taught that different songs were sung in the Beit HaMikdash on different holy days, today’s daf (Sukkah 54b) notes that when Rosh Chodesh falls on Shabbat, the song for Rosh Chodesh precedes the song for Shabbat.The problem with this – as noted by the Gemara itself – is that it conflicts with the…

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Sukkah 53

 Having been taught in the Mishna (Sukkah 5:4, 51a) that ‘חסידים (pious people) and אנשי מעשה (people of deeds) would dance’ during the Sukkot Simchat Beit HaShoevah ceremony, a Beraita in today’s daf (Sukkah 53a) attempts to understand more about who these people were and their personal and spiritual qualifications which made them suitable role…

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Sukkah 52

 In today’s daf (Sukkah 52b) we encounter a fascinating teaching from the school of Rabbi Yishmael relating to how we should respond to the temptation of our yetzer hara (the evil inclination): ‘If this scoundrel (i.e. the yetzer hara) [attempts to] accost you [to tempt you to sin], draw it to the Beit Midrash (study…

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Sukkah 51

On first glance, much of today’s daf (Sukkah 51b) focusses on the external beauty and splendour of the most exquisite sacred spaces that have been built in Jewish history – beginning, of course, with the Beit HaMikdash. In fact, we are told ‘whoever did not see the Beit HaMikdash when it stood never saw a…

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Sukkah 50

 The Mishna (Sukkah 5:1) and subsequent Gemara in today’s daf (Sukkah 50b) discuss the musical accompaniment of the Simchat Beit HaShoevah (literally, ‘the joy of the house of the water-drawing’, which refers – on a basic level – to the drawing of water ceremony from pool of Shiloach which was then used for water libations…

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Sukkah 49

 Today’s daf (Sukkah 49b) is very special as some of the most exquisite teachings about Chessed are found in today’s daf. Here we are taught that giving tzedakah is greater than bringing korbanot, and here we are taught that performing acts of Chessed surpasses giving charity. Yet notwithstanding this, I would like to turn my…

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Sukkah 48

While numerous words are used in Tanach and our Tefillot to describe the feelings of joy and happiness, much ink has been spilt in trying to distinguish between the deep meaning of the words שמחה (simcha) and ששון (sasson).In today’s daf (Sukkah 48b), we read a dialogue between two individuals – one called simcha and…

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Sukkah 47

 In the midst of a detailed halachic discussion in today’s daf (Sukkah 47a) concerning the possible necessity of reciting the bracha on dwelling in a Sukkah on Shemini Atzeret in the diaspora, we are told that ‘Rav Huna bar Bizma and all the great men of the generation visited a sukkah’ on that day and,…

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Sukkah 46

 Today’s daf (Sukkah 46a) addresses my favourite bracha – Birkat Shehecheyanu – and it is here where we are taught that someone who builds their Sukkah should recite Shehecheyanu.Significantly, many precedents are learnt from today’s daf – as well as from the discussion in Tosfot (DH Ha’oseh) on today’s daf – concerning when Shehecheyanu should…

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Sukkah 45

 Following the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, Chazal needed to find ways to encourage Am Yisrael to see grandeur within the individual mitzvot that they performed and to appreciate how even the most minor of spiritual acts can have a major spiritual impact, and as it happens, today’s daf (Sukkah 45) provides us with at…

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Sukkah 44

 Yesterday I received a message about a very dear friend who was recently in hospital for a relatively simple procedure but who has just discovered that he is very unwell. This is someone I have known for many years who, beyond everything else, was not only a daily chavruta of mine, but who is –…

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Sukkah 43

For those unfamiliar with the way in which Sukkot was celebrated in the Beit HaMikdash, today’s daf (Sukkah 43b) – which expands upon and debates the teachings in Mishna Sukkah 4:1-3 (see Sukkah 42b) – may be hard to comprehend. This is because, as we were previously taught in Mishna Sukkah 3:12 (see Sukkah 41a),…

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Sukkah 42

 “A child who knows how to wave the lulav is obligated in lulav”. These words, found in the Mishna (Sukkah 3:15) in today’s daf (Sukkah 42b), inform us that the duty of Chinuch (education) of children for the mitzvah of Arba Minim (Four Species) begins once a child has reached the age and stage when…

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Sukkah 41

 We have previously noted that the hadassim (myrtle) and aravot (willows) are bundled with the lulav such that the lulav is surrounded by these other species (see Sukkah 33a) – and the reason I mention this is because I think that this image of the lulav being surrounded and protected by these other species is…

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Sukkah 40

 A principle taught in today’s daf (Sukkah 40) and derived from Vayikra 25:6 is that Shemitta sanctity only applies to items whose benefit and consumption coincide (שהנאתו וביעורו שוה) such as food, drink, oils and wax (see Rashi). On the basis of this principle, given that only after wood has begun to burn does it…

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Sukkah 39

 A major debate relating to the intersection of Shemitta (the Sabbatical year) and Sukkot is recorded in today’s (Sukkah 39b) daf.In terms of an Etrog used during the year of shemitta (nb. for those unaware, we will be starting a shemitta year on Rosh Hashanah), almost its entire growth occurs in the 6th – as…

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Sukkah 38

 Towards the end of today’s daf (Sukkah 38b), a verse from Sefer Melachim describing an important historical event that occurred during the period of King Yoshiyahu’s (Josiah’s) reign of Yehuda (Judah) is proposed as proof for the halachic principle of שומע כעונה – ‘listening is like responding’. Yoshiyahu was a righteous king. Unfortunately, his grandfather Menashe…

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Sukkah 37

 In the Mishna (Sukkah 3:9) towards the end of today’s daf (Sukkah 37b), we are informed of the different sections of Hallel when the lulav bundle is waved, and though Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel disagree on the matter, the Mishna concludes (and the custom is codified – see Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 651:8) that…

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Sukkah 36

 The Mishna (Sukkah 3:8) towards the end of today’s daf (Sukkah 36b) records a debate between Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Meir about the type of material that may be used to tie the lulav bundle (lulav, hadassim & aravot) together.According to Rabbi Yehuda, it may only be tied במינו – with material of its own…

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Sukkah 35

 Today’s daf (Sukkah 35a) provides us with a gorgeous insight about what has unfortunately become a rare yet true pleasure of life. Specifically, the daf presents a variety of explanations about the significance of the word הָדָר (hadar) – which is generally translated as ‘beautiful’ – and which the Torah uses (in Vayikra 23:40) about the…

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Sukkah 34

When listing the Arba Minim (Four Species), the Torah (see Vayikra 23:40) first mentions the Etrog (פְּרִי עֵץ הָדָר), then the Lulav (כַּפֹּת תְּמָרִים), then the Myrtle (עֲנַף עֵץ עָבֹת), and then the Willow (עַרְבֵי נָחַל). However, this is not the order in which these items are treated in the Mishna. Instead, when the Mishna…

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Sukkah 33

Towards the end of today’s daf (Sukkah 33b), attention is given to the term עַרְבֵי נָחַל which is used by the Torah (see Vayikra 23:4) to describe the willow that, as we are also taught in today’s daf (Sukkah 33a), is bound with the myrtle to the lulav. Given that the term עַרְבֵי נָחַל literally…

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Sukkah 32

 Today’s daf (Sukkah 32a) records a fascinating discussion between Ravina and Rav Ashi relating to the identity of the Lulav. Ravina asks ‘How do we know that the phrase כַּפֹּת תְּמָרִים (Vayikra 23:40) – meaning ‘the branches of palm trees’ – refers to the unopened palm frond? Perhaps it means the thorny branches of the…

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Sukkah 31

 We were previously taught that a dry lulav is invalid because it is not הדר – ‘beautiful’ (see Sukkah 30a). However, today’s daf (Sukkah 31b) relates how there was a period when the residents of large cities were unable to procure fresh lulavim and these residents would bequeath their lulavim to the next generation, such…

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Sukkah 30

As I have previously explained, I believe that Jewish ethics are found and expressed within Jewish law (and where we struggle to see the Jewish ethics in Jewish law, it is likely that the Jewish law has not been explained or applied correctly). Yet while there are occasions when the relationship between Jewish ethics and…

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Sukkah 29

Today’s daf (Sukkah 29a) quotes a ruling that ‘if someone was sleeping in a sukkah and it began to rain, they should leave the sukkah whereby even if it stops raining, we do not trouble them to return to the sukkah until it becomes light (עד שיאור)’. In response to this, the Gemara asks whether…

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Sukkah 28

 The Mishna (Sukkah 2:8) in today’s daf (Sukkah 28a) rules that ‘a קטן (minor) who does not need his mother is [rabbinically] obligated in [the mitzvah of] Sukkah’, which then prompts the Gemara (Sukkah 28b) to explore what is meant by the phrase ‘who does not need his mother’?According to the academy of Rabbi Yannai,…

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Sukkah 27

Today’s daf (Sukkah 27b) informs us that there is a duty להקביל פני רבו ברגל – literally, ‘to greet the face of one’s teacher on the festival’, but understood to mean that one should visit one’s teacher on the festival. As the Gemara explains, this duty is derived from Melachim II 4:23, and it is…

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Sukkah 26

 Having previously been taught that ‘the sick and their attendants are exempt from the mitzvah of sukkah’ (see Mishna Sukkah 2:4, 25a), and having previously been introduced to the principle that מצטער פטור מן הסוכה – ‘someone who experiences discomfort by being in the Sukkah is exempt from the duty of being in a sukkah’…

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Sukkah 25

 Today’s daf (Sukkah 25b) informs us that a bridegroom is exempt from the mitzvah of sukkah either, as Rava explains, because a bride and groom would feel uncomfortable being physically intimate in a sukkah which is relatively open, or as Abaye explains, because the openness of the sukkah would mean that their guests would come…

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Sukkah 24

We were previously taught in a Beraita (see Sukkah 23a) about using an animal as a wall for the sukkah, which Rabbi Meir invalidated, and Rabbi Yehuda validated. In terms of why this is the case, it seemed that Rabbi Meir was concerned (according to Abaye) that the animal may die, or (according to Rabbi…

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Sukkah 23

Today’s daf (Sukkah 23) discusses the unusual scenario of building a sukkah ‘on the back of an animal’ which Rabbi Meir validates, and Rabbi Yehuda invalidates. In explaining this debate, the Gemara explains that Rabbi Yehuda asserts from the words: חַג הַסֻּכֹּת תַּעֲשֶׂה לְךָ שִׁבְעַת יָמִים – ‘the festival of Sukkot you shall make for…

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Sukkah 22

Today’s daf (Sukkah 22) opens with a Mishna (Sukkah 2:2) stating that ‘a sukkah whose shade exceeds its sunlight is kosher’. As the Gemara (Sukkah 22b) observes, ‘this implies that a sukkah which has equal amounts of shade and sunlight is invalid.’However, as the Gemara then proceeds to explain, this seems to conflict with a…

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Sukkah 21

Towards the end of today’s daf (Sukkah 21b) we are taught a lesson from Rav that שיחת תלמידי חכמים צריכה לימוד – ‘the casual conversations between Torah scholars are deserving of study’, and as the Ben Ish Chai explains (see Ben Yehoyada on Sukkah 21b), it is particularly noteworthy that Rav is the author of…

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Sukkah 20

 A curious teaching of Resh Lakish is quoted in today’s daf (Sukkah 20a) where we are told that, ‘initially, when Torah was forgotten from [the people of] Israel, Ezra ascended from Babylon and gave it a proper foundation. When it was again forgotten, Hillel the Babylonian ascended [to Israel] and gave it a proper foundation.…

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Sukkah 18

Today’s daf (Sukkah 18a) contains two teachings of Rabbi Yehuda bar Ilai which seem totally unrelated – other than the fact that they use similar language. In terms of the first, we are told that, ‘Rabbi Yehuda bar Ilai taught: “Where the roof of a house was breached and s’chach was placed over the opening, it…

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Sukkah 17

Today’s daf (Sukkah 17a) continues to discuss the laws of constructing a sukkah and how our Sages imagined relatively small gaps in the roofs and walls of a sukkah as being closed. For example, we learn about the rule of ‘Dofen Akuma’ (literally ‘bent wall’) which asserts that an area of roof above a sukkah…

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Sukkah 16

Every family and every community have their stories about ‘the time when…[an unusual halachic situation arose and a creative halachic solution was found]’, but as we learn from today’s daf (Sukkah 16b), great care must be taken to accurately share the details of those stories so as to avoid confusion and perhaps even future halachic…

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Sukkah 15

 The Mishna (Sukkah 1:7) in today’s daf (Sukkah 15a) presents a variety of opinions about what must be done to transform a yet-to-be-finished roof of a house where the beams are in place, to a valid sukkah roof.For example, according to Beit Shammai, the beams must be loosened and symbolically moved (to demonstrate that this…

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Sukkah 14

In today’s daf (Sukkah 14b) we are told by Rabbi Yehuda how, while living in a period and place of danger, he and others used four-tefachim-wide boards to cover a porch in order to fulfil the mitzvah of dwelling in a sukkah. However, the Sages then responded to him saying that, אין שעת הסכנה ראיה…

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Sukkah 13

Today’s daf (Sukkah 13b) quotes a beraita to teach us that, ‘fig branches with figs on them, vines with grapes on them, straws with ears of grain on them, and brooms of palms with dates on them – in all these cases if the non-edible part (i.e. branch/vine/straw) is greater than the food, then it…

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Sukkah 12

As you will have likely noticed from my daily daf posts, I believe that spiritual messages are often embedded in the words used by our Sages to express technical halachic statements, and I personally take much pleasure in identifying and developing ideas relating to hashkafa (our spiritual outlook and attitude) from halacha (the rules relating…

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Sukkah 10-11

While learning yesterday (Sukkah 10) and today’s daf (Sukkah 11) over Shabbat (given that today was Tisha B’Av), I was drawn to explore a phrase which is used on four occasions in Sukkah 11b – namely קציצתן זו היא עשייתן – ‘their detaching is their making’.Specifically, this phrase is used in a discussion concerning the…

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Sukkah 9

The Mishna in today’s daf (Sukkah 9a) presents a disagreement regarding the halachic validity of a ‘sukkah yeshana’ (literally, ‘an old sukkah’) – which actually means a sukkah on which s’chach has sat for over 30 days prior to Sukkot that had not expressly been placed there for the sake of the upcoming Sukkot festival.…

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Sukkah 8

If you like Mathematics you will likely enjoy the end of yesterday (Sukkah 7b) and much of today’s daf (Sukkah 8a), whereas if you don’t, you may find it a little tricky. This is because the discussion relates to the minimum dimensions of a circular sukkah which requires a journey into the history of pi…

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Sukkah 7

We were previously taught in the first Mishna of Massechet Sukkot that a sukkah שחמתה מרובה מצלתה – “in which there is more sun than shade” פסולה – “is invalid”, while in today’s daf (Sukkah 7b) we are taught that this rule only applies to the shade provided by the s’chach – whereas if there…

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Sukkah 6

In addition to considerable discussion about the authority of the Oral Torah, today’s daf (Sukkah 6b) teaches that while a sukkah can have either four of three full walls, a sukkah must minimally have just two full walls and a third mini-wall (which need only be as long as a tefach – approx. 10 cm).Yet,…

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