Thoughts from the Daf
Zevachim 48: Go North
“The ox and goat of Yom Kippur are slaughtered in the north” (Zevachim 47a). As we discussed in our last post, the fifth perek of masechet Zevachim details where in the Temple each of the sacrifices were to be slaughtered, who could eat them, until when they could be eaten and what was to be done with their blood. With the sacrifices of Yom Kippur offering atonement like no other, it makes...Continue Reading »
Zevachim 47: I Agree!
Other than belief in G-d, there is almost nothing in Judaism that is not subject to debate. Does G-d have a body? Should Biblical stories be understood literally? Is the Mishkan (and korbanot) an ideal or a concession to human weakness? What will the Messianic era look like? On and on it goes. And this before we even discuss the thousands of halachic debates that appear on almost every page in the Talmud. The opening teaching...Continue Reading »
Time to Vote
For those living in the Province of Ontario—that includes yours truly—today is Election Day! (For those who do not live in Ontario, count yourself lucky that you are unable to vote in today’s election.) While Jewish law may quibble with some of the modern applications of democracy, we can proudly say that Jewish teachings are what form the bedrock of democratic values. Sanctity of life, equality before the law,...Continue Reading »
Zevachim 46: What's On Your Mind?
One of the classic debates of the Talmud – and one with no clear resolution – is whether or not mitzvoth tzreechot kavanah. The term kavanah, which literally means “direction”, is not easy to translate into precise halachic terminology, but is generally understood to mean focus and concentration on what one is doing. In numerous discussions in the Talmud (see, for example, Brachot 13a)...Continue Reading »
Zevachim 38: Do it Right
One of the first innovations of the Reform movement was the removal from the siddur of all references to Zion and the Temple. The emerging democracies of Europe, which had begun to treat the Jews as equal citizens, were to be our home. The idea of yearning for the return to Jerusalem was a relic of a bygone era and the notion of sacrifices in modernity viewed as absurd. Judaism, they argued, had moved beyond that stage in its...Continue Reading »