Thoughts from the Daf

Chulin 83: Cow and Calf

One of most famous mitzvot of the Torah is that of shiluach haken, the obligation to send away the mother bird before taking her little chicks or even unhatched eggs. So important is this mitzvah that it is one of the very few in which we are promised long life for its observance. 

This well-know mitzvah has a “cousin”, one not quite as well-known—that of oto v’et beno, the prohibition to slaughter a mother and its offspring, cow and calf, on the same day. 

Chulin 60: The Essence of Torah

One of the teachings that is ingrained in us from a young age is that every letter, and surely every verse and story, found in the Torah is of great significance. We have elsewhere discussed that this premise is far from unanimous, with some of the greatest rabbis throughout the ages maintaining that “the Torah speaks in the language of men” (see, for example, here) and hence, not every word is necessarily of great significance.

Chulin 44: A Kosher Animal?

That the “Orthodox” community is more careful about kosher food than kosher money is sadly obvious, and demonstrated all too often. Despite the Torah’s manifold commands relating to money, somehow these mitzvot are not blessed with the same mazel that surround the laws of kashrut. The yetzer hara, desire, for money is much, much greater than for some forbidden food. This yetzer hara is a fierce opponent and has been known to take down many an otherwise righteous individual.

Chulin 44: The Business of Kashrut

That the “Orthodox” community is more careful about kosher food than kosher money is sadly obvious, and demonstrated all too often. Despite the Torah’s manifold commands relating to money, somehow these mitzvotare not blessed with the same mazel that surround the laws of kashrut. The yetzer hara, desire, for money is much, much greater than for some forbidden food. This yetzer hara is a fierce opponent and has been known to take down many an otherwise righteous individual.

Chulin 42: Heavenly Truth

In the introduction to his responsa, Rav Moshe Feinstein writes that the Sages of each generation are permitted and obligated to issue halachic rulings despite the fact that they may not “decide according to truth in heaven”. Applying the rules of Divine law to evolving human conditions is a most difficult task, and even the greatest of Sages may be misunderstanding G-d’s intent. All that can be asked of a posek is to examine the material as best he can, “with a heavy head and fear of G-d, the Blessed One”.

Chulin 17: I Would Love Some Pork

“And it will be, when the Lord, your G-d, brings you to the land He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you, great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things…and you shall eat and be satisfied” (Devarim 6:10-11). The Torah does not define what the “good things” are that we will find in the homes (and which we may eat) when we arrive in Israel.

Chulin 15: Please Be Quiet

In a beautiful teshuva (Orach Chaim 4 #89) written during Chanukah 1960, Rav Moshe Feinstein was asked (by Rabbi Leo Yung, rabbi of the Jewish Centre in Manhattan) if one should protest the building of an eiruv in Manhattan. As Rav Moshe notes, “we do not have the power to allow” the building of such an eiruv and “I do not see anything that will change my mind in this matter”.

Chulin 15: Shabbat Slaughter

“It is a sign between Me and the Jewish people that in ‘six days’ G-d created the heavens and the earth” (Shemot 31:17). Shabbat, more than any other mitzvah, marks the special relationship between G-d and the Jewish people. Our observance of Shabbat is a sign of our faithfulness to our Creator and, G-d forbid, our desecration of it indicates the abandonment of G-d (at least in Talmudic times, it did). The Talmud thus compares the public violation of Shabbat with idolatry, disqualifying the shechita of both (Chulin 5a). 

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