Thoughts from the Daf

Brachot 29: The Simple Jew

“Our Sages taught: Shimon Hapekuli arranged the eighteen blessings before Rabban Gamliel, al haseder, in order, in Yavne” (Brachot 28b). 

The Gemara (Megillah 17b) notes that the shemoneh esrei was initially composed by the Anshei Knesset HaGedolah. In a rather startling comment, the Gemara then claims that it was then forgotten and hence, the need for Shimon Hapekuli to “arrange them again”. 

Brachot 29: The Changing Nature of Prayer

It is hard to think of a mitzvah that has undergone as much change over time as that of prayer. Originally, prayer was a spontaneous pouring out of one’s heart before G-d. One prayed when, what, how and for however long one may have wanted. This is especially true according to the mainstream view that the obligation of prayer is rabbinic in nature. But even according to the Rambam, who uniquely claims that prayer is of Biblical origin, that just means that there is an obligation to pray once a day.

Brachot 28: The Education of Rabban Gamliel

The years following the destruction of the Temple were fraught with great danger and uncertainty. The infighting that had so weakened the Jewish people threatened to completely tear them apart. Hundreds of thousands were killed or exiled, with the many sects that could not make the transition from a Temple-based Judaism disappearing. The houses of Hillel and Shammai argued so vehemently that there was fear they would “make the Torah into two Torot” (Sanhedrin 88b). With the Sanhedrin no longer in Jerusalem, its authority was questioned.

Brachot 21: Before and After

Shehechiyanu vekemanu vhegeyanu lazman hazeh. It was when daf yomi last reached Brachot 27 that I wrote my first “Daily Daf”. For the past seven and a half years it has been a tremendous privilege to share my thoughts on the daf. I want to thank so many of you for your comments, questions, critique and giving me the inspiration continue writing.

At the bottom of this years thought there is a link to our devar Torah from seven and a half years ago. Time does fly!

Brachot 12: The Heretics and The Ten Commandments

“The appointed one [assistant kohen gadol] said to them [the priests in the Temple]: ‘Recite a single blessing.’ They recited a blessing, and read the aseret hadibrotShema, veHaya im Shamoa and vaYomer, blessed the people with three blessings; emet veyatziv, avodah and birchat kohanim, and on Shabbat, they would add a blessing for the outgoing mishmar, priestly watch” (Brachot 11b).

Brachot 8: Go to Work

“Rabbi Chelbo said in the name of Rav Huna: All who have yira’at shamayim, fear of Heaven, his words are heeded, as it is stated: ‘The end of the matter, all having been heard: Fear G-d and keep His commandments; for this is all of man’” (Kohelet 12:13). It is this message, and only because of this message, that our Sages agreed to include Kohelet in the Biblical canon. 

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