Tuesday, November 13, 2012

.מ"א One last thing

ר' זירא הוה קא משתמיט מדרב יהודה דבעי למיסק לארעא דישראל דאמר רב יהודה כל העולה מבבל לא"י עובר בעשה שנאמר בבלה יובאו ושמה יהיו אמר איזיל ואשמע מיניה מילתא ואיתי ואיסק אזל אשכחיה דקאי בי באני וקאמר ליה לשמעיה הביאו לי נתר הביאו לי מסרק פתחו פומייכו ואפיקו הבלא ואשתו ממיא דבי באני אמר אילמלא (לא) באתי אלא לשמוע דבר זה דיי
 I had some difficulty with this opinion of רב יהודה when it appeared in ברכות. See my comments there. Interestingly, there it is רבי אבא and here it is רבי זירא. It seems רב יהודה had a group of תלמידים, each with the same fear of him due to his opinion on עליה and each with the sam thought - to hear one more teaching  from him before leaving. And, of course, each got his own teaching.

Monday, November 12, 2012

:מ Do thoughts have language?

תוס' ד"ה וכי תימא בלשון חול קאמר ליה. ואע"ג דאסור להרהר נימא דאין אסור להרהר אלא בלשון קדש והוא הרהר בלשון חול:

The question could certainly be asked – when one thinks, is he thinking simply of actions or is he thinking of actual words and therefore, his thoughts have language. According to the above תוספות, it appears to be the latter – or at least that the latter is a possibility. So, for example, if one is in the bathroom and when he is about to leave, he thinks to himself that since it is שבת, it is forbidden to turn off the light, he is not simply imagining the action of switching off the lights and that it is forbidden. He is actually pondering the words “it is forbidden to turn off the lights.”

Monday, November 5, 2012

יעקב - לג and רשב"י

אמר הואיל ואיתרחיש ניסא איזיל אתקין מילתא דכתיב ויבא יעקב שלם ואמר רב שלם בגופו שלם בממונו שלם בתורתו ויחן את פני העיר אמר רב מטבע תיקן להם ושמואל אמר שווקים תיקן להם ור' יוחנן אמר מרחצאות תיקן להם
רבי שמעון בן יוחאי learns from יעקב אבינו that upon a miracle being performed for your sake, you should endeavour to do something productive for the good of the masses. Certainly the parallels between רשב"י and יעקב run far deeper than simply a single miracle. יעקב was running away from his brother עשו who had sworn to kill him. He was forced to flee. Although he wasn't in hiding, per se, he had to travel a certain distance to ensure he was out of harm's way. רשב"י was fleeing a death sentence from none other than עשו's Roman descendants.

I also couldn't help but notice another interesting irony in the parallel between יעקב אבינו and רשב"י. The incident which led to רשב"י's death sentence was a comment as to the ulterior motives behind the Romans' establishment of marketplaces, bathhouses and bridges. According to שמואל and ר' יוחנן, when יעקב arrived in שכם his public service was actually establishing either a marketplace or a bathhouse (or both, I suppose.) Perhaps recalling that civic contribution on the part of יעקב was a discrete way of רשב"י expressing some regret for the comments he had made.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

:כ"ז Intersection

As I've mentioned previously, it's always fun when דף יומי intersects with other items on the calendar. Sometimes the פרשת השבוע will come up. Every now and then דף יומי and משנה יומית intersect. Yesterday, we discussed whether a תחש was בהמה or a חיה. And today, משנה יומית covers נזיר ה:ז which discusses a נזירות on the condition of whether or not a כוי is a חיה or בהמה. Neat!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

.זריזים כ

משלשלין את הפסח: מ"ט משום דבני חבורה זריזין הן
רש"י י"ט: ד"ה משלשלין את הפסח כו'. והוא נצלה והולך משתחשך ואע"ג דבעלמא אין צולין כדאמרן הכא שרי דבני חבורה זריזין הן ומדכרי אהדדי ולא אתו לחתויי בגחלים:
וכהנים זריזין הן
רש"י ד"ה אברים ופדרים הוא דאתא. ... וסמוך לחשיכה היינו טעמא דלא גזור משום דכהנים זריזין הם שכולם היו בני תורה וחרדים ונזכרים ולא אתו לחתויי משתחשך:
In this סוגיא, we are introduced to two groups of זריזים. However, there is an interesting disparity between them and in the way רש"י interprets them. The בני החבורה are not inherently זריזים. After all, all of בני ישראל would have been part of one חבורה or another. That would make everyone זריזים. Rather, they are זריזים of the moment. The task at hand - preparing the קרבן פסח - renders them זריזים. Clearly, the כהנים are different. They are always זריזים by nature.

Interestingly, when רש"י explains the זריזות of the בני החבורה it is one of dependency. That is to say that we are relying on others in the group to correct another who might attempt to stoke the coals. According to ר' יוסי in פסחים ח:ז a קרבן פסח may be shechted for a single person. According to רש"י's understanding here, it would seem that a single person cooking his own קרבן פסח would not be subject to this exemption. But the כהנים, as רש"י explains, are independently זריזים and thus, even a lone כהן would be subject to the exemption. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

.י"א The Tallest Building

ואמר רבא בר מחסיא אמר רב חמא בר גוריא אמר רב כל עיר שגגותיה גבוהין מבית הכנסת לסוף חרבה שנאמר לרומם את בית אלהינו ולהעמיד את חרבותיו וה"מ בבתים אבל בקשקושי ואברורי לית לן בה
As I saw in the Artscroll - according to the רא"ש, the reason why קשקושי ואברורי are not a problem is because they do not serve a functional purpose i.e., they are not inhabited. It would therefore stand to reason that the roofs of present-day houses, which are often sloped and therefore cannot be used for any purpose, need not be lower than the shul.

I believe there is some requirement in Muslim villages that no building be higher than their house of prayer and that is partly the purpose of the minaret. If this is true, it is quite ironic that this גמרא is immediately followed by a passage discussing working for an Ismaelite. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

:ס”ג Egyptian Hospitality

פתח ר' יוסי בכבוד אכסניא ודרש לא תתעב אדומי כי אחיך הוא לא תתעב מצרי כי גר היית בארצו והלא דברים קל וחומר ומה מצריים שלא קרבו את ישראל אלא לצורך עצמן שנאמר ואם ידעת ויש בם אנשי חיל ושמתם שרי מקנה על אשר לי

Perhaps I am alone here. But I always thought that the תורה was teaching us in extraordinary – almost incomprehensible – lesson. We are instructed to show grace towards the Egyptians for having hosted in their land even while subjugating us and treating us poorly as slaves. After seeing this גמרא, I think I have a different understanding. It would be foolish to show gratitude to a nation had they “imported” us for the purpose of enslaving us. We are not showing gratitude for those 210 years of subjugation. Rather, we are showing kindness to the Egyptians for their hosting our fledgling nation in the days of יעקב and יוסף for the years leading up to פרעה’s change of heart, when the Egyptians truly showed a degree of grace towards us (even if for ulterior motives as exposed in our גמרא.)

:ס”ג In Praise of Alexander Graham Bell

הסכת עשו כתות כתות ועסקו בתורה לפי שאין התורה נקנית אלא בחבורה כדר' יוסי ברבי חנינא דאמר ר' יוסי ברבי חנינא מאי דכתיב חרב (על) הבדים ונואלו חרב על שונאיהם של תלמידי חכמים שיושבים בד בבד ועוסקים בתורה

This גמרא speaks pretty harshly of those who learn alone. So certainly one should be going to a shul or בית מדרש to learn with a חברותא. But wait, the .גמרא סנהדרין צ”ב states:

כל בית שאין דברי תורה נשמעים בו בלילה אש אוכלתו שנאמר כל חשך טמון לצפוניו תאכלהו אש לא נופח ירע שריד באהלו

So even if one were to go to his חברותא’s home to learn, his own home would remain devoid of תורה learning. Fortunately, in our time, the telephone has allowed us to accomplish a both of these.

.ס"ג Good Fences

כבר גדרת ואי אתה יכול לפרוץ
Please see this recently written shtikle on Koheles referencing this גמרא.

:ס”ג Honouring the Host

תנו רבנן כשנכנסו רבותינו לכרם ביבנה היו שם רבי יהודה ורבי יוסי ור' נחמיה ור' אליעזר בנו של רבי יוסי הגלילי פתחו כולם בכבוד אכסניא ודרשו פתח רבי יהודה ראש המדברים בכל מקום בכבוד תורה ודרש

It is common custom for a speaker at some sort of gathering to be פותח בכבוד אכסניא as these תנאים were in כרם ביבנה. According to the simple reading of our גמרא, it would seem that רבי יהודה opens with tangential remarks extolling the virtues of those who study תורה, especially making extra efforts to do so. But perhaps this is not at all departure from פותחים בכבוד אכסניא. The אכסניא here are those who have opened their homes to the תלמידי חכמים who have come to study in יבנה. It would not be sufficient to simply say “thanks for having us.” First, רבי יהודה  sets the stage by impressing upon the crowd the importance of what is going on there. With the newly instilled appreciation for the greatness of לימוד התורה, the crowd was then able to fully appreciate the greatness of the הכנסת אורחים on the part of the hosts.

.ס”ג You’re the Man!

דרש בר קפרא זלת קבוץ קנה מינה באתר דלית גבר תמן הוי גבר אמר אביי ש"מ באתר דאית גבר תמן לא תהוי גבר

The מפרשים have already drawn comparisons between this passage from בר קפרא and the well-known משנה in אבות ב:ו:

במקום שאין אנשים השתדל להיות איש

The מהרש”א addresses how בר קפרא lesson is no superfluous in light of the משנה. Without actually answering any questions, I wish to simply draw attention to an interesting discrepancy between the two. The משנה is in fact often misquoted with the short form במקום שאין איש. The משנה actually uses the plural – אנשים. In a place where there are no men, you should strive to be a man. Here, however, בר קפרא only instructs הוי גבר where there is not a single man. I’m not quite sure what to make of this distinction.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

:ס Man of Compromise

א"ר פפא הלכך נמרינהו לתרוייהו
This phrase should be somewhat familiar. We had it back on .נ"ט and yet again on :נ"ט. What is most intriguing, however, is that each time the suggestion to resolve a dispute on the wording of a ברכה by including both opinions, it is made by רב פפא. This seems to be a unique trait of רב פפא.

.ס The Switcheroo

ואחר ילדה בת ותקרא את שמה דינה מאי ואחר אמר רב לאחר שדנה לאה דין בעצמה ואמרה י"ב שבטים עתידין לצאת מיעקב ששה יצאו ממני וארבעה מן השפחות הרי עשרה אם זה זכר לא תהא אחותי רחל כאחת השפחות מיד נהפכה לבת שנא' ותקרא את שמה דינה
There is some discussion in the ספרי אגדה as to what exact נס transpired here. רש"י in ויצא, whose source is פרקי דר' אליעזר, seems to imply that the fetus was simply switched from a male to a female, as our גמרא would seem to indicate. However, תרגום (המיוחס ל)יונתן בן עוזיאל, explains that דינה and יוסף switched wombs.

Here is an old וישב shtikle on the topic and the possible conflation of these two accounts:


The parsha begins with a description of the life that Yosef lead and the relationship he had with his brothers. Rashi (37:2) comments on the words "vehu na'ar," that Yosef had some tendencies like those of na'aros, young girls. He would comb is hair and beautify himself.

Rashi (30:21) in explaining the reasoning behind Dena's name, writes that the fetus was initially a male in Leah's womb and she prayed to give birth to a female so that Rachel would not have less males than the maidservants. The fetus subsequently turned into a female. Targum Yonasan writes that at the same time, Rachel was pregnant with Dena and Yosef was in Leah's womb. The fetuses switched wombs. Dena was born to Leah and Yosef to Rachel instead of the reverse. The source for Rashi is in Pirkei d'Rabbi Eliezer. Radal comments there that this is why we see some male tendencies in Dena, that she "went out" and explored in Shechem

R' Yaakov Kaminetzky, in Emes l'Yaakov takes this one step one further. He writes that this is also why we find female-like tendencies in Yosef. This suggestion troubled me greatly. First, Rashi does not seem to hold like Targum Yonasan*. According to Rashi, Yosef really had nothing to do with the whole Dena episode. And even according to Targum Yonasan, there is no switching of gender at all but rather the fetuses switched wombs. Even Radal's suggestion does not fit with Targum Yonasan, let alone R' Yaakov's.

*Incidentally, רש"י's approach is problematic with his commentary to פרשת וישב מ"ו:ט"ו where he explains the attribution of the boys to their mothers and daughter to her father with our later גמרא of 'איש מזריע תחילה וכו. The מהרש"א answers the difficulty in רש"י with the תרגום יונתן.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

:נ”ה Descendants of יוסף

ולימא הכי אנא פלוני בר פלוני מזרעא דיוסף קאתינא דלא שלטא ביה עינא בישא שנאמר בן פורת יוסף בן פורת עלי עין וגו' אל תקרי עלי עין אלא עולי עין ר' יוסי בר' חנינא אמר מהכא וידגו לרוב בקרב הארץ מה דגים שבים מים מכסים עליהם ואין עין רעה שולטת בהם אף זרעו של יוסף אין עין רעה שולטת בהם

This גמרא has already popped up earlier on דף כ. (Make sure to see the related shtikle there.) In that גמרא, it was ר’ יוחנן speaking as to why עין הרע did not apply to him. At the time, I simply understood that he somehow knew he descended from יוסף. But in this גמרא, we are giving general counsel to anyone wishing to be saved from עין הרע. So I’m not understanding how any Jew can lay claim to being from the progeny of יוסף.

Friday, September 21, 2012

.נ"א Asparagus

Isn't this ironic? Today's דף discusses אספרגוס. Yesterday's משנה יומית, the end of נדרים פרק ו also discusses אספרגוס!
(Although it would seem this is not a reference to the asparagus we know of today.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

.המלך מ"ט

אמר רבה בב"ח א"ר יוחנן הטוב והמטיב צריכה מלכות מאי קמ"ל כל ברכה שאין בה מלכות לא שמה ברכה והא א"ר יוחנן חדא זימנא א"ר זירא לומר שצריכה שתי מלכיות חדא דידה וחדא דבונה ירושלים אי הכי נבעי תלת חדא דידה וחדא דבונה ירושלים וחדא דברכת הארץ
 Not exactly a פרשה bonus but the timing of this גמרא is quite apropos. Right in the middle of עשרת ימי תשובה, we are delving into the necessity to express השם's מלכות in every ברכה.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Welcome

I am proud to announce the unveiling of the latest addition to the Weekly Shtikle blog network. This one will be slightly more challenging to keep up with since it requires my following of Daf Yomi (so far, so good.) Also, I will need to post in a timely manner while readers still have the relevant daf in mind.

Let me explain the name. I wanted to come up with something original. The first ideas that popped into my mind - On the Daf, Daf Thoughts, etc - just didn't fit the bill. The name is inspired by a speech I heard at the Toronto Siyum HaShas by R' Yair Adler where he pointed out that a daf of gemara is sometimes referred to as an עלה, a leaf. This was as he was introducing the guest speaker at the event, Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff (his pun, not mine. I promise.) So, there you have it - "The Daily Leaf."

Monday, August 13, 2012

Live Daf

Thanks to Yeshiva World News, I just found out about a brand new site, Live Daf, based out of Toronto, which provides video and audio shiurim on the daf. The video feature is nice for those who feel their attention is kept better when the shiur is visual, even if it's just someone giving a shiur. But the true uniqueness of the site is its interactivity. You are able to submit questions on the daf and have them answered and there is a Question of the Day feature on each daf. I guess it's kind of the interactivity I hope to accomplish with this blog one day. But there's always room for more - להגדיל תורה ולהדירהּ!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fastest דף יומי in the West

We've already had some גמרא's that address the concept of not making מצות or תפילה appear as a burden. Nevertheless, is one has difficulty fitting דף יומי into the schedule and is looking for the quickest online shiur, it appears the best option is the שיעורים provided by the Young Israel of Century City, CA given by Rav Yitzchak Etshalom. One slightly frustrating thing about the audio, however, is that although it seems these were designed for דף יומי the files are not divided exactly by דף. So listening to the day's דף will often entail listening to portions of two separate files.

Thanks to my father-in-law for this tip.

Monday, August 6, 2012

.ה Trials and Tribulations for ארץ ישראל

תניא רבי שמעון בן יוחאי אומר שלש מתנות טובות נתן הקדוש ברוך הוא לישראל וכולן לא נתנן אלא ע"י יסורין אלו הן תורה וארץ ישראל והעולם הבא... ארץ ישראל דכתיב כי כאשר ייסר איש את בנו ה' אלהיך מיסרך
It's always nice when the דף יומי intersects with פרשת השבוע.
See last year's Weekly Shtikle which is relevant to the above passage.