Brachot 7: What Does G-d Pray For?
What should one pray for? If we were to take a survey of the typical shul-goer, or even one who is not, I suspect we will hear such ideas as health, peace, justice, economic success, a wonderful family. One might take a look at the siddur and see what our rabbis suggested we pray for. We could then add such items as wisdom, repentance, forgiveness, redemption and the rebuilding of Jerusalem. These are all wonderful things to pray for, and it is...Continue Reading »
Brachot 3: Where to Pray?
In our post discussing the last lines of the Talmud Bavli, we wondered why the Gemara ends with a teaching by Eliyahu Hanavi. As Daf Yomi begins its 14th cycle and we open up masechet Brachot, it does not take us long—one page, to be exact—until we meet up with Eliyahu once again. In masechet Nidah, Eliyahu taught that all who study (and review) halacha, Jewish law, every day are...Continue Reading »
Brachot 2: Who's on First
“From when may one recite the kriat shema in the evening? From the time the kohanim enter to eat their terumah until the end of the first watch; these are the words of Rabbi Eliezer” (Brachot 2a). It might be coincidental—after all, someone has to be first—but it is instructive that Rabbi Eliezer is the first of our sages mentioned in the Talmud. Rabbi Eliezer ben Hurkunos, known...Continue Reading »
Brachot: A New Cycle Begins
Rashi begins his commentary to Chumash asking why the Torah begins with the story of creation and not with the first mitzva given to the Jewish people, that of establishing a calendar. Put slightly differently, Rashi wonders why do we begin with a divine clock and not a human one? Rashi answers that the Torah wanted to impress upon us that the world is G-d’s to divide as He pleases. In other words, the Torah opens with the notion...Continue Reading »
Brachot 61: For a Worthy Cause
The story of the martyrdom of Rabbi Akiva is well known. Defying the orders of the Roman government not to engage in Torah study, Rabbi Akiva literally had his flesh ripped off with steel combs – yet was relieved to fulfill the command to love G-d with “all one’s soul”, dying with the shema on his lips.What is perhaps less well known is the discussion he had before his death with Papas ben Yehuda. The latter’s warnings to Rabbi Akiva as to the...Continue Reading »