daf yomi

Some Concluding Thoughts on Masechet Moed Katan

The commitment to learn Daf Yomi is a remarkable one. It is the only study project I know that takes seven and half years to complete (2,711 days, to be precise). Even the most complex and difficult Ph.D programs are generally finished in less time. And of course, once the cycle is finished, it's time to start all over again. Those who want rest and relaxation must look elsewhere. And this, without even one day of vacation. Not one--not even on Tisha B'Av. Considering it is forbidden to learn Torah on Tisha B'Av--as we have learned in Moed Katan--this is quite amazing.

An Outsider: Moed Katan 17

One of the greatest and the most tragic figure of Talmudic literature is Rav Eliezer ben Hurcanus, known simply as Rabbi Eliezer Hagadol, Rabbi Eliezer the Great. His teacher, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zackai, declared that "he was like a plastered cistern that does not lose one drop" and, "if all the Sages of Israel were on a scale and Rabbi Eliezer ben Hurcanus was on the second side, he would outweigh them all" (Avot 2:12). Yet this great Sage was excommunicated for refusing to accede to the ruling of the majority in a most arcane debate about the purity of an oven.

Moed Katan 9: To Fast or Not To Fast

The Gemara (Megillah 5b) relates that Rebbe wanted to abolish Tisha B'Av. Interestingly, no reason is given for this idea of Rebbe's[1]. And while this might be a popular move, "his colleagues would not consent". So much so, that Rabbi Abba the son of Zavda could not fathom that Rebbe truly meant to abolish Tisha B'Av. As much as we might prefer to get rid of it, it is a crucial day in our calendar. "Whoever eats and drinks on Tisha B'Av will not see the comfort of Jerusalem" (Ta'anit 30b).

Moed Katan 5: The Right Path

One of the fascinating features of the Talmud is how it seamlessly moves from topic to topic. The opening Mishnah of Moed Katan teaches that amongst the permitted activities on Chol Hamoed is to “mark the graves”, thus helping people to avoid impurity--something especially important at Yom Tov time. The Gemara asserts that this law is rooted in the Bible, and quotes various proof texts to demonstrate such; the last proof being “and to him who orders his way, v'sham derech, will I show the salvation of G-d” (Tehillim 50:23).

Some Concluding Thoughts on Masechet Megillah

“And I have given them statutes that are not good, and laws that they do not live with" (Yechezkel 20:25). In our last post, we discussed the application of this verse to those who learn Torah without singing. While there is much to be gained in using song in study, Abaye is startled that one who does not learn via song is in fulfillment of this verse--a seemingly harsh appraisal for one who is, in actual fact, learning Torah.

Megillah 21: We Stand on Guard for Thee

One of the ways we show respect for a person is to stand in their honour, and such an honour is not only bestowed on people. The notion of the “changing of the guard”, with those guards standing at attention, is one of the ways we demonstrate honour to institutions of great importance. “We stand on guard for thee” has even been incorporated into our (Canadian) national anthem.

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