“Tanna devei Eliyahu, the school of Eliyahu, taught: Kol hashoneh, all who study (and review) halachot every day are guaranteed that they are destined for the World-to-Come, as it is stated: ‘His ways, halikhot, are eternal’ (Habakkuk 3:6). Do not read the verse as halikhot; rather, read it as halakhot” (Nidah 73a).
There is something surreal about 92,000 people gathering at a football stadium on New Year’s Day to make a siyum on the entire Talmud. That thousands should gather in a football stadium on New Year's is not at all surprising. Growing up it was the only time I might have watched college football. Between The Rose Bowl, The Sugar Bowl, The Cotton Bowl, The Orange Bowl (am I forgetting any?) there was little else to watch on television. But MetLife Stadium is where the pros play and the pros play on Sundays.
“And it does not leave the womb before it is made to take an oath…and what is the oath one is made to take? Be righteous and do not be wicked” (Nidah 30b).
Being pregnant with one’s first child is the best of times. One imagines a talmid chacham, a nuclear physicist, a Nobel laureate, an Olympic athlete and a great philanthropist all wrapped in one. It is only when one gives birth and begins to raise a child that one realizes that is not exactly how it works out.
It is not only the expectations of the parents that change with birth. The baby, too, undergoes a great awakening.
Death, as we have often noted, is the primary source of tumah, impurity, with a corpse classified as avi avot hatumah, the grandfather of tumah.
It is hard to imagine more influential institutions of Jewish learning than those of Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai. These two great schools set in motion much of the foundation of the Oral Law. It was regarding their some 316 disputes recorded in the Mishna that a heavenly voice declared, “These and those are the words of the living G-d” (Eiruvin 13b).
“And you shall live by them” (Vayikra 18:5). The mitzvot of the Torah are meant to enhance life, adding meaning and sanctity to our sojourn on earth. The Torah is an eitz chaim, a tree of life, providing beautiful fruit year after year, generation after generation. Torah and death are incompatible. Thus kohanim, those tasked – at least in Temple times – with the teaching of Torah, were forbidden to come in contact with death.
Seder Taharot opens with masechet Kelim, vessels, which at 30 chapters and 254 mishnayot is far and away the largest of the 63 tractates of the Mishna. To fully understand the masechet, one needs great knowledge of “realia”, understanding the day-to-day of life during the Temple period—specifically, the types, sizes and shapes of various vessels in use throughout the Mishnaic period.
Jewish law is generally divided into three distinct areas: issur v’heter, ritual law; dinei mammonot, monetary law; and tumah v’tahara, laws of purity and impurity. Just as the laws regarding criminal and civil law differ—the former requiring evidence beyond a reasonable doubt and the latter a balance of probabilities—each area of Jewish law has its own rules and procedures. Hence, our sages note, “One cannot derive principles regarding ritual laws from [those of] monetary law”.