Rabbi Yehoshua

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.

Rosh Hashanah 25: A Saving Kiss

G-d is known as kel mistater, a hidden G-d (Yishayahu 46:15). Being created in His image, man, too, should yearn for anonymity. As Rav Soloveitchik notes, we know almost nothing about the members of the Anshei Knesset Hagedolah, those most responsible for setting up Jewish life as we know it today. Under their direction, the Oral Law became the focal point of Torah.

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 80b: Fighting Over a Crust of Bread

For thousands of years, a meal was defined by the eating of bread. Not only as did bread serve as an appetizer, the main course itself was consumed with bread. The term lelafet et hapat, to spread the food on the bread, is a fair indication of how most foods were eaten, and we can readily understand why korbanot were generally accompanied with loaves of bread. The command to eat the korban Pesach with “bread”, i.e. matza (and marror), was a reflection of how meat was generally eaten.

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