"To tell of Your loving-kindness in the morning and Your faithfulness at night" (Tehilim 92:3). Night and day, from a Jewish perspective, are much more than astronomical phenomena. Morning represents hope, confidence, and song. Night represents fear, uncertainty, and loneliness. It is not by chance that Abraham, who ushered in a new way of thinking, is credited with the establishment ofshacharit, the morning prayer; whereas Yaakov, who is identified with exile, instituted ma'ariv, the evening prayer.
"On the night of the 14th [of Nissan], one [begins the] search for chametz". So begins mashechet Pesachim, the tractate dealing with the myriad laws of Passover.
In Talmudic times, it was common for one to wear tefillin all day long. As the Torah does not limit its observance in any way, there would seem to be no reason to limit time spent wearing them to a few minutes a day. Even the exemption from wearing tefillin at night and on Shabbat is subject to much Talmudic dispute, with many asserting that Shabbat z’man tefillin hu (“Shabbat is a time for [the wearing] of tefillin”).
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).
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.
I dedicate the thought below to the memory of my mother, Rachel bat Chaim (Ruth Kelman) z”l, whose yahrzeit we observe today. May we celebrate smachot.
The concept behind an eiruv is that the people making it join together as one large household. Each household contributes some food, which is put in a common area, and all are welcome to come and eat. The area within the eiruv must be enclosed, and there is much Talmudic discussion on what exactly constitutes an enclosure.
One of the key components of the legal discussions of the Talmud is the bringing of proof texts to support a given position. At times, the proof texts are from the Torah; at times from Nevi’im; and at times from Ketuvim. At all times, they lend authority to a stated position.
One of the methods used to help people remember those whom they meet is the mnemonic device of associating the person with some easy-to-remember concept. By linking the new with the known, we increase our capacity to retain that new information.
The teacher/student relationship is a most special one. A teacher must treat his student as he would treat his own child, and a child must relate to his teacher as a parent. The Talmud even rules that one must return the lost object of one’s teacher before that of a parent, for “a parent brings you into this world, whereas a teacher brings you to the World to Come”1 (Bava Metzia, 33a).