Shevuot 13: Need I Repent!
Rebbe Yehuda Hanasi said:…One should be as careful with a light mitzvah as with a heavy mitzvah (Avot 2:1). While (it is generally assumed that) the Torah contains 613 mitzvot (see here), they are not all equally important. The mitzvah not to mix meat and milk cannot be equated with the command not to murder. Nor can the prohibition of shatnez, mixing wool and linen, be compared to the obligation to conduct one’s...Continue Reading »
Shevuot 9: When G-d Sins!
One of the beautiful things about learning Daf Yomi is seeing the enormously wide range of rabbinic thought, something that is often not possible in a more “traditional” setting. And the range is wide indeed – far wider and extending far beyond what we might expect from our great rabbinic Sages. Their unyielding search for truth allowed—nay, forced—them to interpret texts as they understood them, regardless of how...Continue Reading »
Shevuot 2: Counting Goats!
“New moons You have given to Your people, a time of atonement for all your generations.” It is this phrase that serves as the introduction to the mussaf on Rosh Chodesh. We generally think of Yom Kippur as the Day of Atonement; yet some 18 times a year, we declare that Rosh Chodesh is also a day of atonement (as are Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot). While it is not in vogue today, an ancient custom referred to the...Continue Reading »
An Introduction to Masechet Shevuot
The story is told that when the Vilna Gaon was a little boy, he wanted to learn masechet Shavuot in the weeks before the holiday of Shavuot. His teachers chuckled, and explained to him that masechet Shavuot is not about the holiday of Shavuot but about shevuot, the laws of oaths. The Vilna Gaon was surprised at his teachers and told them of course he knew that masechet...Continue Reading »