Makkot 24: A Heart of Gold!
“A song to David; G-d, who will live in Your tent, who shall dwell on your holy mountain? He [who] speaks truth in his heart” (Tehillim 15:2, Makkot 24a). The Gemara, explaining what it means to speak truth in one’s heart, has a simple three-word explanation: “like Rav Safra” (Makkot 24a). The Gemara offers no explanation as to what, exactly, Rav Safra did that was so special to cause our Sages to...Continue Reading »
Makkot 24: 11+6+3+1= 613!
“’And now let Me go, so that I may destroy them and make you a great nation’ (Shemot 32:10). Rav Abahu said: If the verse had not been written, it would not be possible to say it. It teaches that Moshe grabbed the Holy One, Blessed be He, like a person grabs his friend, and said, ‘Master of the Universe, I will not let go until You forgive them’” (Brachot 32a). Every once in a while. the Torah has an...Continue Reading »
Makkot 23: It's Great To Do Nothing!
Almost by definition, news—at least most of it—is of the less-positive variety, often causing us to think the world is a lot worse than it really is. What makes the news are the aberrations: tragic murders, terrorist attacks, financial or sexual scandals. There is little to report when all goes as it should; no news really is good news. In many ways, it is no different with Jewish law. The Talmudic focus is on making that...Continue Reading »
Makkot 22: Please Stand Up!
“Rava said: How foolish are the rest of the people who stand before a sefer Torah, but do not stand before a great person!” (Makkot 22b). Walk into any shul when the sefer Torah is being taken out, or even when the ark is opened and the Torah scrolls remain inside, and you will see everyone standing. How can one not stand for a sefer Torah? But should a...Continue Reading »
Makkot 12: It's Not My Fault
The Torah takes justice very seriously: “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot” (Shemot 21:24). The death penalty is a common refrain in the Torah; one who causes monetary damage to his fellow must make restitution, and a thief may have to pay up to five times the value of what he stole. But one searches the Torah in vain to find crimes for which jail time is called for. Such punishment has...Continue Reading »