Thoughts from the Daf

Pesachim 2-3: Light Up the Night

"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.

Eiruvin 95b: Tefillin for Women

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”).

Eiruvin 81b: Cash Cow

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).

Eiruvin 80b: Fighting Over a Crust of Bread

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.

Eiruvin 63a: May We Debate?

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).

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