What should one pray for? If we were to take a survey of the typical shul-goer, or even one who is not, I suspect we will hear such ideas as health, peace, justice, economic success, a wonderful family. One might take a look at the siddur and see what our rabbis suggested we pray for. We could then add such items as wisdom, repentance, forgiveness, redemption and the rebuilding of Jerusalem. These are all wonderful things to pray for, and it is for good reason that they are included in the shemoneh esrei that we recite three times a day.
Thoughts from the Daf
In our post discussing the last lines of the Talmud Bavli, we wondered why the Gemara ends with a teaching by Eliyahu Hanavi. As Daf Yomi begins its 14th cycle and we open up masechet Brachot, it does not take us long—one page, to be exact—until we meet up with Eliyahu once again.
“From when may one recite the kriat shema in the evening? From the time the kohanim enter to eat their terumah until the end of the first watch; these are the words of Rabbi Eliezer” (Brachot 2a).
Rashi begins his commentary to Chumash asking why the Torah begins with the story of creation and not with the first mitzva given to the Jewish people, that of establishing a calendar. Put slightly differently, Rashi wonders why do we begin with a divine clock and not a human one? Rashi answers that the Torah wanted to impress upon us that the world is G-d’s to divide as He pleases. In other words, the Torah opens with the notion of kabbalat malchut shamayim, the acceptance of G-d’s kingship.
“Tanna devei Eliyahu, the school of Eliyahu, taught: Kol hashoneh, all who study (and review) halachot every day are guaranteed that they are destined for the World-to-Come, as it is stated: ‘His ways, halikhot, are eternal’ (Habakkuk 3:6). Do not read the verse as halikhot; rather, read it as halakhot” (Nidah 73a).
There is something surreal about 92,000 people gathering at a football stadium on New Year’s Day to make a siyum on the entire Talmud. That thousands should gather in a football stadium on New Year's is not at all surprising. Growing up it was the only time I might have watched college football. Between The Rose Bowl, The Sugar Bowl, The Cotton Bowl, The Orange Bowl (am I forgetting any?) there was little else to watch on television. But MetLife Stadium is where the pros play and the pros play on Sundays.
“And it does not leave the womb before it is made to take an oath…and what is the oath one is made to take? Be righteous and do not be wicked” (Nidah 30b).
Being pregnant with one’s first child is the best of times. One imagines a talmid chacham, a nuclear physicist, a Nobel laureate, an Olympic athlete and a great philanthropist all wrapped in one. It is only when one gives birth and begins to raise a child that one realizes that is not exactly how it works out.
It is not only the expectations of the parents that change with birth. The baby, too, undergoes a great awakening.
Death, as we have often noted, is the primary source of tumah, impurity, with a corpse classified as avi avot hatumah, the grandfather of tumah.