Rav Yochanan

Rosh Hashanah 23: A Sweet Smell

There is a widespread custom to decorate our shuls with flowers in honour of Shavuot. This beautiful custom commemorates the flourishing of the desert in the vicinity of Mount Sinai as the Jews received the Torah. The gloom and desolateness of the desert was transformed to an oasis, thriving with the sounds and scents of life.

While the flowers commemorate the surrounding at Sinai, it is through learning the Torah itself that is the essence of Shavuot.

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 89b: Yitzchak to the Rescue

Abraham is the founding father of Judaism, Yaakov is the founding father of the Jewish people, and Yitzchak is the link between them. His role was that of consolidator, enabling Abraham’s’ revolutionary ideas to survive to the next generation. He is the quiet link, allowing others to shine in the spotlight. Yet, in a fascinating passage, the Talmud (89b) describes how Yitzchak was the one who came to the rescue of the Jewish people.

Brachot 50: Gratitude

“From the blessings of man, we see if he is a scholar or not”. How, and more importantly, whom one blesses tells us much about a person. How we word our blessings was of great interest to our Sages; after all, before speaking to a king, we think over each word we want to say, and mistakes reflect a lack of seriousness. How much more so when speaking to the King of Kings!

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