Thursday, October 16, 2008

Kiddushin Daf 3

The Gemara describes an Esrog as 'darko legadel al kol mayim' it grows from all water. There is a well known idea that the four species represent four different types of Jews that we take and bring together. The Esrog has taste and smell, wisdom and good deeds, the Lulav just taste, the Hadasim just smell, and the Aravos neither. Where did the Esrog get to have both taste and smell? The answer is because the Esrog knows what is the proper way to grow, from all water. The Mishna in Avos teaches us "aizehu chacham, halomed mikol adam' Who is a wise man? One who learns from everyone. Water is compared to Torah and the Esrog is willing to grow from all water, wherever the Esrog can find something to grow from he will take it in and use it for personal growth. We too should strive to be like an Esrog and look for possibilities for growth from everyone we encounter.

Kiddushin Daf 2

The Gemara tells us that the word 'derech' way can be both masculine or feminine depending on what it's referring to. Therefore in the Pasuk 'vihodatam lahem es haderech yailchu bah' the use of the word derech is feminine since it refers to the Torah which is feminine as we see in the verse 'Toras Hashem temimah mishivas nafesh'. The question is why is the Torah a feminine word and not a masculine word. Perhaps the answer is that the Torah requires our effort to attain it. Just like a man has the role to seek out a woman, so too, a man has to seek out the Torah. People expect to wake up one day knowing all there is to know. The Torah needs to be acquired as delineated by Rabbi Meir in Pirkei Avos. There are forty eight ways one must utilize in acquiring Torah it doesn't happen by itself!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Gittin Daf 47

When Reish Lakish died, he left over some saffron to his heirs. He (regretted that he worked more than he needed to, and) applied to himself "they left their wealth to others." We can ask what is so terrible about leaving over an inheritance to our children??? We can learn a valuable lesson from Reish Lakish. We spend much of our time on physical pursuits and neglect our spiritual ones, Reish Lakish is teaching us that the legacy that we leave to our children is not the amount of money they inherit but the lessons on life that we show them by our example. If we spend our days and nights at work and neglect Torah study, every extra cent we earned that we didn't use at the end of our life is wasted time that we could have put to better use.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Gittin Daf 46

When a woman was divorced because she was thought to be an "ailoniss" (a woman who cannot conceive)R' Yehuda says the husband cannot remarry her after the divorce. If the woman marries another and conceives and wants to claim her Kesuba from her first husband, R' Yehuda says we tell her "shtikutech yapheh midiburech" your silence is better than your speaking. This is because if she claims her Kesuba, the first husband might say that he would not have divorced her had he known she could conceive and that would question the validity of the Get and also her children.
This advice of R' Yehuda is something we all should take to heart. Many times our speech brings about more problems for us than gain.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Gittin Daf 45

Shmuel says that if someone owns a slave in Israel and sells the slave to someone outside of Israel, the slave goes free and the buyer does not get his money back. Abaye asks why is the buyer fined? The seller should be fined! Rav Yosef answers if not for the hole (a place to put the stolen goods), the mouse could not steal! Abaye asks if not for the mouse, the hole would not do anything! Rav Yosef answers it is more reasonable to fine the buyer, since the Isur (the slave) is by him. We can learn a very important lesson from the culpability of the mouse-hole in the mouses stealing. We should be very careful and not enable other peoples wrongdoings. If we would not listen to other peoples juicy gossip they would have no one to tell it to.

Gittin Daf 44

The Gemara discusses the penalty for selling a slave to a non jew and says that he must be redeemed even at 100 times his value. The question was raised whether this is an actual amount or an exaggeration. The Gemara concludes that perhaps it is actually even to one hundred times his value, because every day he is by the non jew he is withheld from performing Mitzvos. This should be a lesson to us to recognize the importance of each day and the opportunity it provides to do Mitzvos.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Gittin Daf 43

Rabah bar Rav Huna initially taught that just like a Jew who does a half-Kidushin on a Jewess does not take effect, also Kidushin of a half-Shifchah does not take effect. Rav Chisda objected that you cannot learn from half- Kidushin, in which he did not try to acquire all of her; to (full) Kidushin of a half-Shifchah! Rabah bar Rav Huna consents that he made a mistake and comments "This stumbling under your hand" - one understands words of Torah only after stumbling in them! We can all learn a very important lesson from Rabah bar Rav Huna, we all make mistakes in life but if you use the mistakes you make to do better in the future then even the mistakes that you have made in the past were a good thing!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Gittin Daf 42

The Gemara concludes that if an owner knocks out his slaves tooth or blinds his slaves eye the slave is freed without any need for a shtar shichrur. If he knocks out another body part the master must write a shtar shichrur to free the slave. The reason for this distinction is because the tooth and the eye are explicitly mentioned in the text, as opposed to the other body parts which are derived from exegesis. Tosfos explain that even though exegesis is also considered Torah, nevertheless the slave requires a shtar shichrur because people who are ignorant of the law won't know that he is supposed to be freed and might question the status of the slaves children. We see from here the importance of going out of our way to avoid even erroneous misconceptions of our actions.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Gittin Daf 41

The Mishna discusses a case of someone who is half a slave and half a free man (i.e. He was owned by two partners and one partner freed his half) Beis Hillel initially said he should split his time, work one day for himself and one day for his master. Beis Shammai countered that works well for his master but what about him, he cant marry a female slave because of his free half and he cant marry a Jew because of his slave half. To let him not get married is also not an option because the world was created for the sake of procreation. Rather, for Tikun ha'Olam, we force his master to free him, and the half-slave writes a document obligating himself to pay half his value to his master. Beis Hillel retracted, and agreed to Beis Shammai.
We can learn an important lesson for ourselves from the case of a half-free and half-slave person. We are similar to the half-slave half-free person, we are composed of two parts, a Guf (body) and a Neshama (soul). We are constantly dividing our time between these two entities. We should think every moment of the day am I working for myself or for my Master in Heaven.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gittin Daf 40

If a master puts Tefillin on his slave the slave goes out free. This teaches us an important lesson. Even though to free a slave normally requires a shtar, here not even a statement is required. This is because actions can even be stronger than the written word. How careful we need to be with our actions!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Gittin Daf 39

One who makes his slave Hekdesh, the slave works and is fed from the earnings, for only his value was made Hekdesh. This is like R. Meir, who holds that one does not say empty words (to Hekdesh. Surely he intended to give something to Hekdesh; therefore, when a person's statement seems to be nonsensical, we "read into" his words a more plausible explanation.) "Ein adam motzi devarav l'evatalah." Rebbi Meir is of the opinion that a person does not utter words for no purpose. Rebbi Meir only refers to a case of our word to G-d, however we should try to live up to Rebbi Meir's standard of not speaking empty words to anyone. When we give our word it should mean something.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Gittin Daf 38

R' Yehuda says in the name of Shmuel " Anyone who frees a Canaanite slave transgresses a positive commandment..." The Gemara asks "Once R' Eliezer came to Synagogue and found there wasn't a Minyan, so he freed his slave (to complete the Minyan)" The Gemara answers "mitzvah shaani" for a Mitzvah (to pray with a Minyan) we make an exception.
Next time we are sitting around our house doing nothing (important), and its time for Minyan, we should remember this Halacha. If the Torah is prepared to make an exception to make a Minyan, surely we should find time to show up to one!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Gittin Daf 37

The year of Shmitah cancels all outstanding debts. The Mishnah in Shevi'is teaches that if a borrower desires to repay the debt even though he is not obligated to, the lender must say, 'I refrain from collecting.' If the borrower insists that he wants to return the money nonetheless and says, 'Even so I want to repay it', the lender may accept it. Rabbah here adds that the lender may "hang him until he says this" ("v'Tali Lei Ad d'Amar Hachi").
One can ask on this how will Shemitah ever cancel a debt? If the lender has the right to force the borrower to pay him back, Shemitah is entirely ineffective???
The difference in this case is the borrower offered to repay it, so now the lender can coerce him to repay the debt. The borrower figured he could ease his conscience by offering to pay back the debt when he really knew that the lender would have to refuse the payment. We are shown an important lesson that when one eases his own conscience by making another person feel sad that he almost got back his loan, he loses out in the end. We have to be very careful to not misuse other people's kindness and take advantage of them and then boost our own ego at their expense.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Gittin Daf 36

The Gemara brings in the name of Ulah that the Jewish people (in the sin of the golden calf) were like a bride who has illicit relations while under the wedding canopy. R' Mari the son of the daughter of Shmuel quoted a source for this from Shir Hashirim "while the King was still in his party my perfume gave up its aroma". Rava points out that this verse hints at the love G-d still maintains for us, because the verse does not say the aroma spoiled (just that it went away).
This display of G-d's love for us should be a lesson to us to try and reciprocate and do more for the sake of G-d.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Gittin Daf 35

Rav Zeira says that they stopped only widows from swearing to collect the Kesuba, divorcees still swear. The reason for this is because a widow toils to care for the orphans and she might "asya l'oroyei hetera" rationalize swearing that she did not receive any money from the Kesuba, even if she did, since she feels that she is entitled to compensation for her toil. We can learn an important lesson from this about the danger of rationalization. We often rationalize all the wrong things we do because we feel a sense of entitlement, we deserve a break. We have to be careful when we find ourselves looking for the loopholes....

Gittin Daf 34

The Gemara relates a story about R' Yehudah who was trying to get the son-in-law of R' Yirmiyah of Bira to give a Get to his wife. Every time he got him to acquiesce to send a Get, R' Yirmiyah's son-in-law would subsequently nullify the Get causing R' Yehudah to start over again. Finally, R' Yehudah after extracting another Get from the recalcitrant husband, R' Yehudah ordered the messengers to stuff their ears with something so that they would not be able to hear the husband nullify the Get. This teaches us an important lesson. Sometimes there are people who try to undo your efforts to do what's right and the only answer is to stuff our ears and not hear anything. Of course, we also need to know when to take out what's in our ears and listen to what we're told!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Gittin Daf 33

The Gemara discusses the argument between Rav Nachman and Rav Sheshes if you need to nullify a Get in front of a Beis Din of two or three. Rav Nachman brings a proof that you only need two judges from the following Mishna; 'I hand over (my loans) to you judges, Ploni and Ploni (We see it mentions only two judges on a Beis Din for Pruzbul). Rav Sheshes replies"Atu Tana ki ruchla leichashiv v'leizil"?! - Should the Tana count out [all of the words "v'Peloni" that refer to judges,] like a spice merchant?! We can learn an important lesson from here about our own speech as well. We all should be careful to not be like a "ruchla" a peddler of gossip (Rechilus) and be careful with every word that comes out of our mouth.

Gittin Daf 32

The Gemara asks why does the Mishna relate both cases where a man may nullify a Get he sent to his wife, by directly telling his wife that the Get that he sent with a messenger is null and void, or also by sending another messenger to his wife telling her the Get is null and void. The Gemara explains that in the first case there is more of a likelihood that he really means to nullify the Get because he went through the effort himself to tell her it is void. He would not do that just to cause her pain. However, in the second case where he is not expending any effort, there is a greater likelihood that he means just to cause his wife pain and indeed he really wants the Get to work. Therefore, it is necessary for the Mishna to tell us that even if he sent another messenger to tell his wife the Get is invalid, it really is invalid.
This can be a very useful tool in combating the Yetzer Hara. When someone has a desire to do something wrong, he can utilize his natural laziness to not bother to do that wrong thing. This is one of the understandings of the concept of serving G-d "B'chol levavcha" with both your Yetzer Harah and your Yetzer Hatov.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Gittin Daf 31

Rav Huna and Rav Chisda were sitting and Geniva passed by. One of them suggested rising to honor him, for he is learned. The other replied "Mekamei palga'ah neikum"? Should we stand up for one who instigates arguments?! We can learn a very important lesson from this; even though Geniva was learned, they would not accord him honor because he was bothering Mar Ukva. How much more so should we be extra careful not to instigate arguments.
please also see further explanations given below on the Ohr Sameach website.

Gittin Daf 30

The Gemara relates a story where a man told his wife that the Get she receives now will only be valid if he does not return within thirty days. The man came on day thirty but was on the other side of the river and could not cross. The man yelled from the other side saying "I'm here, I'm here!". Shmuel ruled that it doesn't count and the Get is still valid. Rashi explains that even according to those who say "Yesh ones b'gittin" there is an excuse of extenuating circumstances even with regards to a Get, that is only if the extenuating circumstance is unforeseen. In this case he should have realized he might not be able to cross the river and should have said the Get is also invalid if he standing by the other side of the river.
This teaches us an important lesson. So many times we find ourselves with an excuse why we did or didn't do what we should, and we say to ourselves that we had no choice. Almost all of the time the excuse could have been foreseen, and we could have prepared for that, and didn't!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Gittin Daf 29

The Mishna describes a case where there is a messenger to give a Get within Eretz Yisrael, and he got sick, the messenger can appoint a second messenger to give the Get. Rav Kahana in the Gemara explains this is only if he got sick, because it is not his fault, otherwise he should not send it with another messenger.
We can learn from this about our mission in life. We have been given a purpose in life, we are like that messenger, and we are supposed to accomplish the goals that are wanted of us. Unless we fall ill we are expected to complete our purpose and not try to hand it off to someone else to do. In Pirkei Avot 2:5, Hillel says, "B'mekom She'ein Anashim Hishtadel Liheyos Ish" - In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Gittin Daf 28

The Mishnah tells us that if a person is on his way to receive a death penalty we still may not allow his wife to remarry until we know for sure he is dead. R' Yosef limits this ruling to a Jewish court. The reason is that a Jewish court even on the way to a death sentence allows for someone who knows information which may exonerate the convicted person to stop the proceedings. The Gemara explains that even though a secular court might accept bribery, that is only true until the chief justice signs the death warrant. Once the chief justice signed a death warrant we may assume the woman's husband is dead.
This difference between a Jewish and secular court is an important lesson to each of us. How many times do we stick to our decisions even when there is new evidence that should make us rethink our conclusions. We need to learn from the Jewish courts that we are not infallible and there can always be some new information that can change everything, especially when someone else stands to suffer from our errors.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Gittin Daf 27

Rabbah bar Bar Chanah lost a Get in the Beis Medrash, he said "I can either give a Siman(sign of authentication) or, I can recognize the Get" and they returned it to him. He replied I do not know if they returned it to me because of my Siman, and they hold that Simanim work mid'Oraisa, or because I recognized it and specifically a "tzurba m'drabanan" a rabbinical scholar is believed to say that he recognizes his lost Get, however a commoner is not believed. Tosofos explain we don't return it to a commoner because they lack trustworthiness.
We should all strive to be like a "tzurba m'drabanan " and try to ensure that we have a reputation of scrupulous honesty. There is a story with a lawyer who once called the Chofetz Chaim as a character witness and told the following story of the Chofetz Chaim's character to the judge:
Once, when the Chofetz Chaim was in Warsaw, he was approached by a man with a five ruble note in his hands, who claimed that he owed the Chofetz Chaim a ruble for a book he had once bought from him. The Chofetz Chaim refused the money, saying that he did not remember such a debt, and it would be better to approach his accountant, who might have a record of the debt. After receiving this reply, the man changed his tune, this time claiming that he wanted to give a ruble as a donation. The Chofetz Chaim said he did not accept presents, but if he so wished, he could donate the money to the yeshivah in Radin. The person agreed to do that, but when the Chofetz Chaim took out his wallet to give him change, he grabbed the wallet and ran away. The Chofetz Chaim began to run after him, shouting to him as he ran away that he could have the money and that he forgave him completely. Furthermore, he would not allow anyone to chase the thief.
The judge interrupted the lawyer saying, "My dear advocate, do you really believe that story?"
He replied "Your Honor, I don't know if the story is true or not. But they don't tell stories like that about you or me."
((K'tzeis Ha-Shemesh Bi-Gvuraso, p. 200)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Gittin Daf 26

The Gemara mentions the opinion of R' Papi in the name of Rava that a Beth Din may not write an authorization of witnesses' signatures until after the testimony of the witnesses occured. The Gemara explains "michzi k'shikra" it looks like a falsehood. The sensitivity we can learn from this opinion is immense. Even though the witnesses are standing there ready to testify that it indeed it is their signature and its only for a matter of minutes, since the Beth Din is not absolutely sure that it is true they cannot write the authorization.
How often do we assert something is one hundred percent true, even without two percent of the facts?!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Gittin Daf 25

While discussing the concept of bereira (retroactive determination) the Gemara brings a case where a man told his children, "I will slaughter the Korban Pesach on behalf of whichever one of you comes first to Yerushalayim." Once the first child enters, he acquires his portion, and his siblings acquire through him. R' Yochanan explains the father's intentions were "kdei l'zarzan b'mitzvos" to train them to be zealous in Mitzvos. Really, the father gave a share directly to each child at the time of slaughter!
One can ask on the Gemara, how can the father lie to his children just to train and educate them about zerizus (alacrity) ?
I believe that the answer gives us a tremendous lesson in life for ouselves and in educating our children. A mitzvah performed with zerizus and a mitzvah performed without zerizus may seem similar, but they are actually worlds apart. The father is not lying when he says the first one will be the one who will merit the Korban Pesach, because a mitzvah is indeed fundamentally different when performed with zerizus.
"I'll get up in five more minutes." "I know basically what's going on in the daf yomi today, it's enough to get by." "Why does it have to be done now? As long as I get it done it shouldn't matter when I do it." Sound familiar? Procrastinating not only affords the possibility that it may never get done but actually changes the quality of the Mitzvah that is done.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Gittin Daf 24

The Gemara teaches us that a woman may not appoint a messenger to receive the Get from her husband's messenger. One of the reasons why is because we are concerned that the husband would be insulted that she was not willing to receive the Get directly from his messenger, and might therefore cancel the authority of his messenger to deliver the Get to his wife. This teaches us a valuable insight into human behavior. The husband clearly has no problem with this insult to his wife, in delivering the Get through his messenger. Yet, if she should do the same thing to him, he might be so terribly insulted that he would go so far as to cancel the validity of his messenger.
How often do we see life through our own perspective in realizing insult only when we are the insulted party? We need to be cognizant of others' feelings and insult at least as much as our own.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Gittin Daf 23

The Gemara describes the reason that a non-jew cannot write a Get "Leshmah" for its sake, even if there is a jew standing over him, is because "oved kochavid ledaatay denafshey kaavid" he only does things for himself.
We can learn a lesson from this that as a jew we should strive to serve G-d "leshmah" for G-d's sake, and not focus on doing things just for oursleves. We constantly have to ask ourselves before we do anything "is this something G-d would want me to do or not?"

Gittin Daf 22

The Gemara brings down an argument between Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yehuda regarding a plant that grows between an elevated field and a lower field. Rabbi Meir says the plant belongs to the elevated field owner because if that owner removes his dirt there would be no plant. Rabbi Yehudah argues and says it belongs to the owner of the lower field because if that owner would fill up his land with dirt there would be no plant.
This argument can be a message to all of us with regards to raising children. Rabbi Meir points out that without the dirt which provides the nourishment and base for the plant it will not grow. Rabbi Yehudah says that without leaving space for the plant to breath and receive sunshine it will not grow. The truth is, as parents, we need to both provide the base and the nourishment for the growth of our children as well as leaving room for our children to stretch and grow on their own and receive their own sunshine.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Gittin Daf 21

The Gemara after describing a Get that is given while it is on the husbands field and then the field is given as a gift, asks "vha matana, medayta isa, baal korcha lessa?" a gift can only be received willingly, not against the persons will.
We can learn a lesson from this that one can only receive a gift if one is willing to accept it. G-d constantly gives us gifts like Shabbos and other Mitzvos but we have to be willing to receive the gifts for the gift to be ours. Often people view these gifts as burdens and feel like they are forced to take them against their will. To truly benefit from these gifts one must appreciate and accept them as the gift that they are.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Gittin Daf 20

The Gemara discusses an argument between Rabbi Yehuda and the Chachomim whether one who wrote G-d's name unintentionally (he thought he was writing the name Yehuda and by accident left out the daled) may write over it with the proper intention for it to be a valid writing of G-d's name. The Chachomim do not allow it because "ayn Hashem min hamuvchar" it's not a proper writing for G-d's name. The Gemara goes on to say that this may only be true with regards to a Sefer Torah because of the concept of " zeh Keli veanvehu" this is my G-d and I will glorify Him.
The concept of "zeh Keli veanvehu" is usually applied to making Mitzvos more beautiful, e.g., having a nice Talis, etc. However, the application here is referring to an instance where the beauty is completely hidden from the eye, as one cannot tell whether it was written the first time with the intention of G-d's name or not. This teaches us that sometimes we can beautify the Mitzvos that we do in a completely internal and hidden way and fulfill the concept of "zeh Keli veanvehu". Our initial intention in doing a Mitzvah can make the difference.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gittin Daf 19

The Gemara discusses a case if witnesses do not know how to sign their names for a Get - may we write their names in red dye, and they will write over this in black ink because regarding Shabbos, the top writing is considered writing? The Gemara answers no because of the concept of "V'chi mipnei she'anu medamin na'aseh ma'aseh" just because we suspect, or speculate, what the law is, should we rule that way in practice? The Gemara is telling us that we cannot use the same set of rules to determine when we should be lenient as in the case of Get and when we should be strict, as in the case of Shabbos. Often we set different rules for ourselves for ruchniyus and gashmiyus, like when to hit the snooze button because we need extra energy today.....would it be the same rule if we had to get up and be on time for shacharis or if we had a plane to catch ??

Gittin Daf 18

The Gemara raises the question: If a person writes a get early to keep in his pocket in order to see if his wife appeases him or not, would that not destroy the purpose of the Rabbinic requirement to incorporate the date on which the get was written? Since the husband did not yet intend to divorce his wife, that date should have no halachic bearing.
Rava explains that that is not a concern because since the husband is willing to be appeased he obviously wants to remain married and "lo makdim inish poranusa linafsheh" a man wouldn't prepare something which is negative to him earlier then he has to. This can be a lesson to all of us. If something is viewed as a positive thing we prepare for it and make sure we are ready when the opportunity arises. The question we need to ask ourselves is, do we view the important things in life like a chore, or rather as opportunities to anticipate and actively prepare for?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Gittin Daf 17

The Gemara discusses why was it enacted to put the date on a Get of divorce?
One answer given by R. Yochanan is lest a husband fraudulently save his wife from being killed for adultery by giving her a dateless Get after she sinned and Beis Din would not know when the divorce happened, and could not kill her. Sometimes a man would have enough compassion to save a wife that betrayed him, in a case where he married his niece. The other answer given by Reish Lakish is so she will be able to prove from when the fruits of her possessions belong to her, the day he finished writing the Get.
The Gemara is teaching us to be wary of two very strong Yetzer Haras (evil inclinations). The first one is to be careful not to sin where you think you are doing the right thing, like in this case where he thinks he is having mercy and trying to save a life. The second Yetzer Hara that we are warned about is also a very powerful one....Money.
We can see these two types of Yetzer Haras in Shema where it says "bechol levavcha bechol nafshecha u'vchol meodecha" Bechol levavcha is "bishnei yitrzrecha" with both the Yetzer Tov and the Yetzer Hara, namely the continuation of the pasuk of the Yetzer Hara of the "nafeshecha" when you you think you are doing the right thing, and the Yetzer Hara of "meodecha" your money.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Gittin Daf 16

The Gemara mentions the concept that the amount of water necessary to connect two bodies of water to be considered as one is that it should be " tofeach al menas lehatfiach" wet enough that when one touches the water it can transfer that water to somewhere else. This concept is also a message to us that if we cannot transfer our own "water" i.e. the Torah to someone else then it is lacking in its own right and not considered "wet".