Beitzah 22

Today’s page is governed largely by two mishnahs about Rabban Gamliel. The first lists three stringencies that he held — aspects of festival observance that he followed in accordance with the opinion of Beit Shammai and not Beit Hillel. (They were: Not insulating food cooked on the festival to enjoy on Shabbat, not setting up […]

Continue Reading

The Power of 50 Minutes

“How were your holidays?” is an entertaining question to receive as a clergyperson when it comes to the High Holidays. Usually, the honest answer is “exhausting” but the one I give is “great!”, so as not to seem too downtrodden by the biggest Jewish moments of the year. However, in this second year of social […]

Continue Reading

Beitzah 18

Cubs-Cardinals, Michigan-Ohio State, Republican-Democrat — if you love a good rivalry between legends, perhaps you’ve been enjoying the series of Hillel-Shammai debates that have so far formed the backbone of Tractate Beitzah. On today’s daf, we’re reminded that while Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai represent different schools of thought and are often at odds, they do […]

Continue Reading

Beitzah 17

When the rabbis tackle big ideas, they rarely signal they are doing so. This means that you never know when a mundane halakhic argument will suddenly reveal a much deeper clash. Such is the case on today’s page, when a deceptively innocent debate about a tiny turn of phrase in a blessing reveals a major philosophical divide. […]

Continue Reading

Beitzah 16

Many Jews have the custom of singing Shabbat songs, or zemirot, after the festive meals every Shabbat. One of my many favorites is an early modern onecalled Yom Zeh L’Yisrael (“this is a day for Israel”), traditionally sung after Friday night dinner. The second stanza reads: “Hearts’ desire for a broken nation, for ailing spirits an […]

Continue Reading

Beitzah 14

There were two major centers of the late antique rabbinic world: Roman Palestine and Sasanian Babylonia. The rabbis in these two communities were subject to different empires and had different cultural contexts that shaped their lives. While they all saw themselves as part of the same rabbinic Jewish community, their differences were also important and […]

Continue Reading

Beitzah 13

Today the Gemara continues its discussion of the labors that would ordinarily be prohibited on festivals but are permitted because they allow one to prepare food. There turn out to be a number of interesting facets here. For instance, preparing food wasn’t just about slaughtering animals or preparing grains and then cooking them. It also inevitably meant […]

Continue Reading