Rabbi Eliezer

Taanit 10: To Fast or Not to Fast

Sukkot marks the beginning of the rainy season, and Rabbi Eliezer opines that we should start saying  masheev haruach umoreed hageshem starting the first day of Sukkot. While Rabbi Yehoshua does not disagree that, in theory, Sukkot is the correct starting point, "since rain on Sukkot is a sign of a curse", he ruled that we should push off the recital of masheev haruach until Shemini Azeret—which is the practice we follow today.

Pesachim 68b: Fasting or Feasting

The Gemara (Pesachim 68b) records a debate as to the proper way to celebrate Yom Tov. Rabbi Eliezer says that one must make a choice; we must either “eat and drink, or sit and learn”, whereas Rabbi Yehoshua says, “Divide it—half for eating and drinking, and half for the beit midrash”. Rav Yochanan (living three generations later) explains that this argument is actually rooted in contradictory Biblical texts.

Eiruvin 81b: Cash Cow

As more and more of our economy runs on credit, as we increasingly pay for purchases with debit cards or even smartphones, the necessity—or even the capability—of using cash is becoming less and less common.

Truth be told, this not a modern phenomenon. “Rabbi Yochanan said: According to the words of the Torah, money acquirers ownership; yet why was it said that one must lift an object [in order to acquire ownership]? It is a [rabbinic] decree, lest he tell him, ‘Your wheat was burned in the attic’” (Eiruvin 81b).

Shabbat 63: Battle Clothes

The sixth chapter of Shabbat begins with the issue of what ornaments a woman—and to a lesser extent, a man—may or may not wear on Shabbat in a place with no eiruv. The Sages feared that, upon meeting people in the street, one might take off the ornament in order to show it to one’s friend, and inadvertently violate the prohibition of carrying on Shabbat. Thus, for example, the Mishnah forbids a woman to wear a “City of Gold”, a beautiful piece of gold jewelry that was given by Rabbi Akiva to his wife. Of course, the Bible forbids the wearing of that which is not clothing.
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