daf yomi

Sukkah 26: I'm Too Busy

"Rabbi Yossi Haglilee used to say: One who is involved in a mitzvah is exempt from another mitzvah" (Sukkah 26a). A mitzvah is entitled to one's full attention[1], and our Sages long ago understood that when one tries to multi-task, both tasks will end up the poorer for the effort. Despite the inherent logic involved in such reasoning, the Talmud looks for scriptural support for this notion.

Sukkah 11: If You Build It...

While the Jerusalem Talmud rules that one makes a bracha upon construction of a sukkah (Sukkah 1:2), our practice is not to do so, seeing the making of the sukkah as only a hechsher mitzvah, a necessary (and laudatory) preparatory stage to the mitzvah itself, that of dwelling in a sukkah. When all is said and done, it matters little who makes the sukkah[1]. The Gemara (Sukkah 9b) allows sukkot ganbach and ravkash, acronyms for sukkot made by those not obligated in the mitzvah, i.e.

Sukkah 4: Reach for the Top

The Gemara derives the minimum height of a sukkah from two separate and very distinct sources. In fact, the first “source” is no source at all. Rather it is based on simple logic. A sukkah less than ten tefachim, handbreadths (approximately three feet) tall is not fit for habitation as “it is a dira serucha, a smelly dwelling, and a person does not live in a smelly dwelling” (Sukkah 4a). No textual support is cited, as none is needed.

Sukkah 2: It's Who You Know

We eat matza on Pesach to commemorate the matza eaten by our ancestors as slaves in Egypt and as newly freed people. The blowing of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah parallels the mitzva to blow shofar on many an occasion (see Bamidbar, chapter 10). We light the menorah on Chanukah to commemorate the lighting of such in the Temple. The partying that accompanies Purim can be traced to the many parties in the Megillah. Even our fasting on Yom Kippur can be traced to the fasting of Moshe on Har Sinai.

Some Concluding Thoughts on Masechet Yoma

Masechet Yoma deals almost exclusively with mitzvoth between man and G-d. Most of the tractate painstakingly records the intricate details of the special Temple service carried out on Yom Kippur. The few pages that are left focus primarily on the parameters of the mitzvah to "afflict our souls". Only at the very last Mishnah in Yoma  do we finally hear anything about the power of teshuva and the importance of mitzvoth between man and man.


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