June 29, 2021

Yoma 79

Having been taught in the Mishna (Yoma 8:1, 73b) that one who eats the equivalent of a כותבת הגסה (a large date) on Yom Kippur is liable, today’s daf (Yoma 79a) attempts to understand what this unusual measure is, and it is here where we are told that it is an amount that דבהכי מיתבא דעתיה – ‘enables a person’s mind to be put at ease’.
As we are told in tomorrow’s daf (see Yoma 80b), while eating food the size of a כותבת הגסה may only take the ‘edge’ off the hunger of someone with a larger appetite (such as Og, the king of Bashen), and greatly relieve others with a more modest appetite, this measure is still substantive enough that someone who is hungry who eats this amount of food will feel [at least] a [partial] sense of physical relief.
Yet just as there is a certain amount of food which we need to eat to put our mind at ease and keep the hunger at bay, I believe that there is also a certain amount of Torah – which our Sages often compare to food – which we need to learn to help put our soul at ease and keep the spiritual hunger at bay.
This is one of the reasons why I learn daf yomi, because before I eat my physical breakfast each day, I know I need a spiritual breakfast as well to give some comfort and nourishment to my soul.
And this is also why, if we are fortunate enough to conceive or encounter a beautiful Torah thought, we should share it with others, for perhaps they may not realise how hungry they are, but upon ‘consuming’ that Torah thought, it will help take the edge off their spiritual hunger – and give some comfort and nourishment to their soul.
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