Thoughts from the Daf

Shabbat 147b: Sin City

"Rav Helbo said: The wine of Perugitha and the water of Diomsith cut off the Ten Tribes from Israel" (Shabbat 147b). As Rashi explains, Perugitha was the name of a country that produced great wine, and while he does not explicitly say so, Diomsith had wonderful bathhouses. Rashi goes on to explain that the ten tribes spent their time seeking pleasure, thereby neglecting Torah. This caused them, to use a modern term, "go off the derech", both figuratively and literally.

Shabbat 145: Home and Away

When one studies Talmud, it is easy to forget that Sages quoted on the same page may actually have lived hundreds of years and hundreds of miles apart. A question posed by a third-century scholar in Israel might be answered by a fifth-century scholar in Babylonia. As is to be expected, these two great centers of Torah study developed in slightly different ways; there was even healthy competition between the two.

Shabbat 139: Guilty as Charged!

While we are unable to discern G-d's ways--and it behooves us to not even try--Talmudic rabbis were not so reticent in ascribing reasons for misfortune. Whether the Rabbis meant it literally, or gave cause to calamity as a means to deliver a message to their generation is not really relevant. What we can gain is insight into their view of the world. There is nothing new under the sun, and the messages of 2,000 years ago are no less--and are probably much more--applicable today.

Shabbat 118a: Shabbat Meals

“Make your Shabbat like a weekday, and have no need [to take from] people” (Shabbat 118a). In Talmudic times, it was the norm to eat two meals a day; Shabbat was special in that three meals were to be eaten. Yet one who had enough food for two meals on Shabbat was not to ask for charity to eat that third meal. It is better to treat Shabbat like a weekday and eat less—quantitatively and qualitatively—than to be a recipient of charity.

Shabbat 105b: Anger Management

One of the foundational laws of Shabbat is that only productive acts are prohibited; “all who destroy are exempt” (Shabbat 105b). At times, a seemingly destructive act is prerequisite for a constructive act, rendering such prohibited. Included in the 39 melachot of Shabbat are, “destroying to build”, and “tearing in order to sew”. But “one who rends his garments in anger is exempt” (Shabbat 105) – acting in anger is never productive, and hence, such tearing does not violate Biblical law.


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